First I click the back button.
When news of the Bridgewater Plaza shooting first appeared on my Facebook feed, the words “shot,” “killed,” and “live on-air” were too horrible to immediately process. So I clicked the back button and strained to untranslate what I’d read. I made my mind reduce the words to meaningless bits of data, fearful of the meaning they might generate when paired together.
This is how I initially react to shootings like the one at Bridgewater Plaza, or Charleston, or Sandy Hook.
I click the back button, then cringe at what this reveals about my true nature. Apparently, my first instinct upon seeing something tragic is to pretend that I didn’t. It’s cowardly and shameful, but what’s more shameful, and what I realize after about thirty seconds, is that my second instinct is to think about myself. People are dead, loved ones are grieving, and my chief concern is how I’m responding to their tragedy.
This neurotic self-analysis can go on forever, so I hunker down and click on the link. This time I stay on the page…