I took a mini-vacation from social media. (And a long vacation from this blog.)
The main reason was the Orlando shooting that killed 49 people. People all over my facebook, twitter, and other forums had their heads up their asses about it. I was angry. I quit.
Today, I saw #Istanbul trending on twitter and knew that that could be nothing good. It wasn't. An airport suicide bombing killed at least 28 people and injured at least 60.
A few minutes later, my news feed contained a link that said, "German shoots himself after Denver attack that injures several."
Orlando, then Istanbul, now Denver.
I know these are different instances of violence in different places with different motivations. Dash are suspected to be responsible for Istanbul. A lone gunman taking out his self-hatred on 49 gay people just minding their own goddamn business at a nightclub that he used to frequent, is responsible for Orlando. Some German guy with unknown motives shot several people, then himself, in Denver.
That's what I know about these tragedies. I'm not sure how much is truth, half-truth, or outright lies about these people, their motives, and their circumstances. I know they're all different, but at this point, I don't care. Different or not, mass violence on this scale is scary, and far too common, and it needs to stop.
What makes people think it's a-OK to take out so many other lives? What kind of staggering selfishness makes someone think that if they're going to die, they have the right to take 20+ people down with them?
I don't really know the correct reaction to these kinds of tragedies. There's fear, there's numbness. There's also a great deal of anger.
Sometimes, I think anger is a good reaction. It's anger that has always motivated me to do things. Anger can motivate people to make change for the better. Fear, on the other hand, motivates people to suspect others and then legislate that fear into institutionalized prejudice. The Republican candidate is using that fear -- of immigrants, Muslims, powerful women -- to get himself elected.
But then I think about anger and wonder, perhaps the anger I feel after reading about these tragedies is the same kind of anger that motivates someone to shoot people. Or to strap on a suicide vest. Or, after so long feeling fearful and powerless, to direct that fear outwards: harass people online, buy into the stigma, or commit a hate crime. It all has to start somewhere, right?
I wonder why I don't feel sadness as often, or as deeply, as anger or even fear. Maybe it's because to me, sadness feels like giving up. If I'm sad, that feels like I've accepted that these events are a part of life that you have to grieve normally and just accept. No. That infuriates me. I'm becoming madder just thinking about that.
Perhaps this is because these events are not just thought exercises for me, fuel for some facebook argument about whether relatives of victims in the Orlando shootings should be given visas or not to attend the funerals. I grew up in a foreign country going to school on a military base. 9/11 impacted my childhood in ways that many other millenials living stateside at the time couldn't imagine. When we got news of terror attacks -- one foiled on a base not two hours away -- we didn't have the Atlantic between us and the news. My mom travels for work. She's been all over: Japan, the Middle East, Africa, and yes, Istanbul. People can feel sad and express sympathy over Istanbul, Orlando, Denver but they can't feel the knowledge that it could have been their mom in Istanbul boarding a flight back to the States. Or themselves at a gay nightclub in Florida. Or their friend who lives in Denver.
Sad seems distant. Sadness is for people you don't know very far away, and isn't it a shame what the world's coming to, what should we watch on Netflix now? But maybe that's just me. I have no business telling others how to feel. At the same time, I don't apologize for having an opinion.
Grief is one thing. Just feeling sad is another thing. Grief comprises anger, among other things. We need to keep feeling angry, horrified, outraged, whenever these kinds of terror attacks and mass killings and murder-suicides happen. We need to dig in our heels and avoid the "acceptance" stage of grief. Acceptance means you've given up trying to change things. Anger means you won't -- can't -- accept the way things are.
Istanbul. Orlando. Denver. I don't accept this.
Edit: when I wrote this post, the death toll was 28 with 60 reported injured. Now, CNN reports that 36 are dead and 147 are injured, that we know of.