Social media has made me ill the past few days. All of the bitterness and arguing. For an outsider looking in, you'd never believe that we're all trying to cope with a massive tragedy. And I'm not innocent in it. I tried to steer clear of ugly battles, but at the same time, I'm human - and that person inside me wants to scream at all of the things that are wrong with part of this world and the way the other part is reacting.
Facebook and Twitter have brought out the ugliest aspects of our nature. It's fitting as social networks have given everyone of us the soapbox from which we flaunt our first amendment right to be obnoxious. But is that the right thing to do? Not that long ago, we would discuss horrific events from the relative safety of living rooms, churches, bars, and water coolers with people who were mostly of similar political or religious persuasion. Now, we step up to the world wide microphone and bleat whatever comes to mind to a much more diverse audience. From some other corner of the internet, a "friend" with little in common with us will rebut as if fate of all mankind rested upon their ability to fix the error of our ways. I'm no angel and I like to be correct just like most other sentient creatures on this planet. So please do not take this as a lecture from someone who is immune.
Over the past four days, as I've watched the slow-motion train wreck unfold in my twitter feed and in conversations on Facebook, I've made a few observations. I do enjoy to be faultless, but I also realize that I'm not always. So please, feel free to point out any perceived deviation in my musings. But please - if you do, do so with kindness.
Reactions to Friday's massacre - whatever the content - can be divided into a few categories. Granted, the words below are not quoted verbatim. This is a generalization of what I'm seeing in social websites, blogs, and comments on news stories.
1.Reactions of fear. These are the people who are debating pulling their kids out of public school because they fear another rampage. These are the people who wonder why our teachers are not armed. These are the people who fear the proliferation of fully automatic weapons.
2. Reactions of opportunity. This is a door that swings both ways. Guns are to blame. A lack of guns are to blame. Blame video games or television. Blame rock musicians. Blame a lack of mental health care. Blame mental health medications. Blame conservatives. Blame liberals. These are those that are trying to score political points - to capitalize on someone else's loss.
3. Reactions of demand. This is the call to action. These are the people that want an immediate repeal of the second amendment. These are the people who are demanding we allow people to carry weapons into schools and bars and courtrooms. These are the people who want reform and they want it now.
4. Reaction of superiority. These are everyone's least favorite words. I told you so. I knew this would happen. This wouldn't have occurred if we did things my way. Let me beat you over the head with how much I am better than you.
If you say that this nation needs to have some serious discussions about gun control or mental health, I'll agree with you. If you say that our nation needs to experience a drastic culture shift, I'll still agree with you. But if you come into those conversations from the perspectives of fear, opportunity, demands, or superiority, you're doing it wrong. Very wrong.
There is a fifth method I've seen used in reaction to Friday's shootings.
5. Reactions of grace. Respect for the grieving. Respect for those who don't share your opinions. #26Acts. Sensitivity. Tact. Hope. Kindness. Love.
This last approach is a rarity and it breaks my heart that I have not seen more of grace and hope. It pains me because I think this is the most appropriate way to react. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.