I think it’s time I come clean about my quirky ways of dealing with these things. Although I think it’s pitiful that a person has seen so many massacres make the news in her lifetime that she actually has to develop a “personal massacre policy”. Life is a bowel of cheeries, isn’t it?
- I don’t watch any of the news coverage on TV. At all. My being informed about the various tidbits of information and grief vulturing don’t solve the problem, bring anybody any comfort or even allow me to be mentally in a place where I can offer comfort to others.
- I don’t read any news coverage online for the first 24 hours. Online coverage has become my preferred news source over the last few years because it’s marginally less entertainment-driven than the televised counterpart. Yet everyone is so in love with breaking the newest piece of knowledge that things get garbled in the translation. In this latest instance I’ve seen many “facts” quoted on Facebook and used to argue for changes in social policy that then turn out to not be “facts” at all.
- I don’t go anywhere near Twitter for the first 48 hours. I’ve toyed with staying off FB, but that’s where I conduct a lot of my interactions with other writers and I’m not letting some mass-murdering broken person to cramp my life and come between me and my friends. But I’m only ever marginally on Twitter–in fits and starts–so to go there would be Disaster Trainspotting for me.
- I will not discuss the politics of the situation for 24 hours after the incident. Waving the bloody shirt is a time-honoured bit of emotional politicking that I try to indulge in as little as possible in my normal life. I’d like to say I never do it, but I will admit to making appeals to the Holocaust in defense of our policies toward Israel and making appeals to the Civil War dead to argue against the modern secessionists. Those deaths are decades past. While they are no less tragic, there has been time to mourn. I really don’t think that as people are scrambling to see if any of the victims are still alive is the time to say “Hey! Let’s talk about Social Policy!” I know other people do feel like it’s exactly the time and that’s their right, of course. I’m just not playing along.
- I will not read anything at all about the shooter/massacre committing person until 7 days have passed. I figure that’s my way of honouring the dead. They get a form of shiva before I turn my attention to the one who ended their lives.
- I will not mention the name of the criminal in writing at all; I also try to not speak it, but that’s less permanent. There’s no way to Google a spoken conversation with my husband. But I won’t add to the notoriety of Sirhan Chapman Booth by speaking his name. My mom always said that sensational violence, teen pregnancy and suicide are contagious because there is a type of person who is fueled by seeing it done by someone else and takes it upon themselves to do likewise. Since these massacre folks seem to want notoriety I figure the very least I can do is deprive them of it and thereby deprive someone else of the potential thrill of their own bloody deeds.
- I will pray and praise God. I’m never more aware of the brokenness of the world than I am during a tragedy. I love that God loves us in spite of that.
- I will not name-call, ridicule or speak hatefully about people who have different social policy opinions than I do. On Friday a FB friend jumped in to talk about social policy issues and immediately–in the wake of violent, hatefilled actions on the news–spoke violently and hatefully about those on the other side of the social policy issue. That bitterness feeds the culture of hate, makes hate and the dehumanization of others a common currency and I refuse to join in. Absolutely refuse.