I could try to explain it, but I’m sure I would fail. There’s no words that I could come up with that would even come close to describing the sheer terror of hearing that your son is in a place, or your child’s in a place, where there’s been violence. You don’t know the details of that violence, you don’t know the condition of your child and you can’t do anything to immediately help them or protect them. It is a powerless and terrifying experience.
From here, a parent of a student at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT talking about hearing about the shooting this morning.
News like this just derails everything else; I find it hard to think about other things, to care about what I’m supposed to write about, and so on. It’s exhausting, horrible, unthinkable; describing it as “powerless and terrifying” is something that fits most people’s experience with the news, I suspect. I think that’s why the response on social media that I’ve been tracking has been do… vitriolic, for want of a better word. We don’t want to accept our powerlessness, so we’ll rail loudly about gun control and the lack of mental health care and other (important, worthy) issues, because at least then it feels like we’re doing something.
(That said, to everyone who says things like “Now is not the time to talk about gun control”: No, now is exactly the time. There have been two mass shootings in a week. What other sign do you need that this needs to be addressed?)
(Also, I feel simultaneously aghast at, and jealous of, those who seem to be perfectly capable of having a normal day on Twitter today, making jokes and going “Woo!” about things. Would that I could do the same.)