The Snapchat footage is what killed me. I’d been at work, taking occasional breaks to check the TV. Various reports of the school shooting in Florida were playing, and really, this is one of the things that bothers me the most: For a lot of folks, this was the first time they realized a shooting had taken place. That was at 7pm.
Anyway, I noticed people sharing videos that students had captured from the middle of the mayhem. Kids had pulled out their phones and snapped everything. I watched.
It wasn’t the sound of gunfire that sickened me the most. We're all way too used to that now. The sound of an AR-15 going off again and again, even in the halls of a school building is on its way to becoming white noise now. No, that is not what got me. It was the captions.
It was the fact that in the middle of a blood bath, these teens had the wherewithal to add short messages to the snaps. One of them even switched over to the emoji keyboard to add the sad-cry face.
Was I angry at these kids for being seemingly desensitized? Was I blown away by what seems like a walling off of emotion? A removal from trauma even as it’s happening? Was I worried because I didn’t yet know how it ended for the kids making those snaps?
I was filled with a mixture of wonder and anger, of concern and disgust. The captions were things I was familiar with; things I can picture my coworkers doing, or my friends. That little act— searching for *just the right emoji to express the raw feelings brought on by an actual slaughter as it is happening—connected me to their humanity.
We didn’t see this kind of thing in Vegas, or Paris either. Sure, there was some cellphone videos of the concerts, videos that showed the moments before the tragedy. But those victims were adults. Almost inherently, they dont utilize social media like teens do. Adults react to trauma by running for the exit. These were teens, listening to the teachers whose jobs now require training on how to minimize assault-rifle casualties. Social media and trauma are woven into children’s lives in ways that are hard for any of us to understand. Kids, teens; "youth," will react in ways we do not comprehend, in ways of which we will naturally disapprove, because adults have a différent life experience, they're coming at things from a different place than "the kids."
The job of those adults, the ones kids are told to trust, is to keep them from getting filled with bullets in the middle of first period.
I woke to the expected litany of "adults" calling for us to pause for a moment before we decide what we’re going to do about this. Adults admonishing and pleading for actual, literal apathy in the face of murdered children. Seriously, I really need someone to explain how discussing potential solutions "disrespects" grieving families. I figured they'd want to know someone cares. Guess not.
We are always told "not to politicize." To honor the memory of the killed, to "respect" the families whose children won’t be coming home from school, by doing nothing. So let me say this as clearly as possible: Doing nothing is its own political act. Waiting until you are more indifferent about another pile of dead children is a political act.
Our country leads the world in this epidemic. According to Politifact, The United States has more mass shootings -- and more people cumulatively killed or injured -- than the other 10 developed nations combined. Everything every single one of us does about it from right now until the moment we tell Alexa goodnight is a *political act.* There, just now, whatever you just did, you politicized it. It's the height of priviledge to act apolitical about it. The guns are *a* problem, but they're not THE problem. That distinction goes to us. More specifically our socioeconomics, individualized society, and the plutocracy that rules us.
These teenagers, the survivors of this, are literally shouting at the president and congress to do something, to cut the bullshit and start ending the body count. Are you going to tell them it's useless? You going to tell the "pro-life" only applies to abortions? You going to tell them that this is the cost of freedom and liberty? That the most powerful capitalist country in the world would rather not hurt those stellar gun sales, or the NRA's fee fees? Your move, grownups.