I was inspired by my friend Jim Baker’s blog post earlier today on the etiquette of social media in light of tense times (you should probably check out his blog anyway because it’s one of a very small handful I consistently read and it’s pretty great!)
I have been thinking a lot of my friends who live in Boston and how they might be feeling right now. Some of them were at the marathon earlier that day. My husband Mike actually completed his first marathon about a year and a half ago in Erie in right around the same finish time that the bombs went off. Anytime you can fathom those most important to you being hurt (or worse) causes one to shudder. This moment is one of those close calls for a lot of people, and a very sad reality for too many. It is heartbreaking.
So what I’m about to say is in no way intended to diminish the reality of this situation – this is a bad thing and people are justified in feeling upset, scared, angry, and a host of other emotions.
The thing that nags at me is this: we as a country don’t respond to situations like this very well, especially in social media. It seems like at first, everyone posts heartfelt messages of prayers and thoughts going out to people in a tense situation. This is a good thing – people need to know in this situation that they’re not alone. But then within a day or so, it becomes heavily tempered about political points of view, a sudden patriotism for some that seems so artificial or anti-patriotism for others blaming everything on the current leaders. This is the point where we start to turn ugly. What comes next, inevitably, are posts/comments treating whatever the tragedy as if it is the single worst thing that has ever happened in the entire world.
I’m bothered by each of these things for different reasons, but probably by the lack of perspective people have for what is going on in our world the most. Millions of people spend every day in fear of terrorism that encompasses their every single day… and many of those people are living in fear because we are attacking them.
We have killed THOUSANDS of people, including many, many innocent people. The title of this article is a little misleading, though, because there isn’t really a count on how many people US drones have killed in the last decade – no one’s keeping track. “Using the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s count, the U.S. has launched between 416 and 439 drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia since the U.S. first successfully weaponized an MQ-1 Predator a decade ago.”
This, in my opinion, is the worst thing in the world. These attacks are happening and they’re happening as we continue to support them.
I’m really not trying to diminish what’s going on in Boston, or any of the other national tragedies we’ve experienced as of late – they are tragic and terrible and I hate them. What I am trying to put into perspective is the reality that bombings like this are a regular thing on our planet and we only seem to take notice when it’s on our soil.
People in the Middle East where these attacks are happening spend every day living in a deeper fear than the Bostonians felt today, or than the residents of Newtown felt when school resumed. But for some reason I’ll never understand, the social media response and the general vibe of our country is, “Who cares! They’re not our people.”