Another school. Another shooting. Another family suffering unspeakable grief and the rest of us wondering why… Each time something like this happens and the talking heads fall over each other in their rush to opine and offer professional insights and people nod in agreement, murmur their understanding, express outrage about guns or care for the mentally ill or public safety. The outcry dies down, we all go back to what we were doing until the next time. There’s always a next time.
Wherever I go all I see are people who have isolated and insulated themselves from everyone else around them – staring at their phones, thumbs flicking, scrolling through messages and Facebook posts and Instagram pictures and Twitter feeds. “Social” media… “connectedness”… really? How about for an hour, a day, a week we communicate in a more human way face to face, voice to voice, eye to eye. Recognize and acknowledge our fellow human beings.
Reportedly the young man who entered Arapahoe High School had had some kind of disagreement with a teacher. How devastatingly sad that apparently the only way he knew to be heard was with a shotgun.
Can we re-learn how to speak to each other civilly, listen when we’re being spoken to and hear what another is saying? Empathy, sympathy, and respect seem to be slowly bleeding away. I see cruelty and intolerance thinly veiled as humor; I see people commenting with hatefulness, vulgarity, and insults because some other commenter disagrees with them. Our very worst is spewed out for all to read, but blanketed by the anonymity of it all. Say what you want. It’s not like you have to actually look in a person’s eyes and see their visceral reaction to a particularly nasty post, do you?
It’s a such a weird dichotomy – we can be faceless, nameless words typed out on a screen yet fame – millions of people knowing who we are – is now the ultimate goal in life.
It used to be in school, at home, out in the world – there were unwritten rules that we all understood and our behavior was tempered by known consequences that we were all aware of and had a healthy fear of. There really are no consequences for bad behavior online or anywhere else for that matter or else the responses are so hysterically overblown in proportion to the behavior it’s become ludicrous. Logical, boundaries and guidelines have become blurred or erased altogether. What truly would be considered “over the top” anymore? What’s the next spectacle to go viral on Youtube or broadcast on cable in the form of a “reality” show? I shudder to think.
I’m not a psychologist or an expert in human behavior. I don’t have any answers. But I feel it’s time to find a way to disconnect from our devices and reconnect with fellow human beings. And I will try to dedicate myself more to being friendly, to being helpful, to being more understanding and stopping to think for just a second before I speak (or type).