On Wednesday, February 14th, a 19-year-old gunman and ex-student walked right into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled the fire alarm, and opened fired as students came into the hallways. After being able to escape by blending in with the crowd, the gunman fled the school and made his way to a few towns over. From there, he was captured, sent to the hospital, and then arrested upon being released. The news came quick and heavy across all forces of news outlets. Within a matter of moments, the world was once again all coming together to stare and debate the latest mass shooting news.
I was no exception when it came to being invested in the breaking news. I remember very clearly. I had just walked into the lecture hall for my JAMS 101 class. I was sitting in one of the last rows, in a seat in the corner, when my phone buzzed. It was just before 2:00 CT and I had gotten a breaking news notification from my handy-dandy TMJ4 app. I opened the app and immediately, I saw the very first sentence which summarized that there had been a school shooting in Florida and all they knew was 20 students were injured. I closed the app and got ready for lecture.
In the moment, I didn’t think to sit back and register what I had just read. Instead, I opened my notebook and waited for my professor to begin. At the time, it felt like the natural thing to do. From there, I didn’t really think about the incident or get another notification for it. It slipped my mind until I moved onto my last class and my roommate was on snapchat. I saw the story for the shooting and it suddenly hit me again.
When we got back to the suite, we were bombarded on facebook with posts saying, "pray for Florida" or "we need more gun control." and depressing photos that you’d expect your dramatic aunt to share.
Upon seeing all the posts, we were on a hunt for all the information we could gather. We were scavenging the internet, in all the corners of all the news networks, trying to dig up information on who was the shooter, what was he like in school, why did he do this, how did he get in, etc. All the major questions anyone would want to, we were on the hunt for like some wild hackers.
In the midst of our searches, we stumbled upon videos taken at the crime scenes and even during the shootings. While these were heartbreaking, we moved on with our investigation. And right there lies the problem at hand.
There’s this vicious cycle I have found my generation goes through. When hearing of a mass shooting, we no longer feel the deep, rooted sadness one would expect. We aren’t exactly to be blamed for this, either. We, a collective generation, have been exposed to so many shootings and tragedies that now it just rolls right off our shoulders. The best way to express my feelings towards it is to compare it to how humans can adapt to smells. When exposed to a scent for a very long time, such as the smell of our homes, we stop smelling it. However, sometimes we a whiff of it when we walk back in but then it disappears once again. This is the commonality of mass shootings has toyed with my emotions. When you have already 18 shootings in a year and its only February... who has enough strength in them to really sit down and truly grieve. By the time you’re done, there’s already another one to focus on and the unbearable cycle rolls on.
Of course what happened is tragic, it always is tragic, it’s just our reactions to everything have become so obsolete. We have grown to have this mentality of “oh another one” and shuffle through life. No society should ever have to adapt to violence but we can’t help it. With nothing ever changing, we hear the same banter, the same cases, the same causes... all of that. It’s the same news, same chatter, and it’s enough to drive someone insane.
It’s a shame we have come to this moment in society. I do not mean to sound insensitive because I truly do feel something about the latest mass shooting it’s just that it has become a waiting game for the next tragedy. I do truly feel horrified by the events and this now makes me uneasy to go anywhere. However, all the emotions just bundle together and sooner or later I can’t take it, my body can’t take it, and my mind certainly can’t take it. So, we just adapt to it. As much as I would love for that to change, it seems it never will. If we can’t get it together, slowly but surely we will just keep producing generations of children more numb and more unsurprised by the latest breaking news.