On the Sunday afternoon of August 26, 2018, I was conducting my typical routine of procrastinating and mindlessly scrolling through all my social media accounts. While on Facebook, I saw an article from one of my hometown local news stations saying there had been a shooting. It was the only article I saw of its kind and there wasn't much information available, so I kept scrolling. While talking on the phone with a friend from home, I found out more information. I found out that it was a mass shooting and that it had taken place at the Jacksonville Landing where I had been not even two weeks before.
The scariest part about finding out that a mass shooting had taken place in my hometown was the fact that before "mass" was even a factor, I hadn't batted an eye. Shootings are no stranger to Jacksonville and I didn't realize I had become so desensitized to random acts of violence until the mass shooting was announced.
With that being said, I'm no stranger to local violence. Like I said, shootings are unfortunately common in Jacksonville. On top of that, shootings are no stranger to Florida in general. I remember waking up to the news about Christina Grimmie and bawling my eyes out. I remember waking up a day later to the news about the Pulse shooting and being an absolute mess. I had never experienced violence so close to home before with such frequency. Not only was I a huge Christina Grimmie fan, but I was an LGBT ally and a Florida native. The senseless attacks felt all too personal.
When the Parkland shooting occurred, I was no longer sad. I was angry. In fact, I was enraged.
That rage pushed me to participate in the "March For Our Lives" rally. I really felt like I was doing something; like I was making a tangible difference. Gone were the times of a mass shooting blowing over in a few weeks. This one was going to be remembered, and things were going to change.
When I heard and saw the news about the mass shooting at the Jacksonville Landing, I was numb. I had so many thoughts running through my head. How dare someone do this to my town? To me? How dare you make me worry about my friends and family when I'm two hours away? How dare you make me check Facebook every five minutes to make sure everyone is safe? To make sure no one I know is dead?
It didn't become real until I saw that the video from the stream that was going on during the shooting was number one on the YouTube trending page. In the next few trending spots underneath it were other videos about the shooting. Celebrities and famous politicians started talking about it. National news organizations started talking about it. We started talking about it at school.
People started sending their prayers like it was going to make us feel better; like it was going to do something. It had always enraged me when people would send out thoughts and prayers after a mass shooting, but it never made me feel like this. I feel angry, but I also feel jealous, hurt, and confused.
It's so hard to not be angry and not take this as a personal attack. After Parkland, it seemed like something might change. It seemed like we were safe. Now it seems as though Florida might be plagued - plagued with senseless gun violence and also plagued with a desensitization to said violence.
Raising our voices and taking action are the only ways anything is ever going to change.