Las Vegas Has Me Feeling A Lot Of Things, But "Surprised" Isn't One Of Them

Las Vegas Has Me Feeling A Lot Of Things, But "Surprised" Isn't One Of Them

We have to decide if we as a society are OK with mass shootings being such an inescapable part of the American experience.
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When I first heard about the shooting in Las Vegas, I was just about to go to bed. The initial estimates I saw showed a few people dead and a couple dozen injured. I was saddened but, honestly and depressingly, I was not at all shocked.

When I woke up the next morning and saw the end result of the absolute carnage –– 59 dead and upwards of 500 injured, not to mention the thousands whose lives will be forever tinged by the trauma associated with surviving what was like a war zone –– I was devastated.

For a time, I was just numb to it all.

But still, I wasn't shocked.

I refused to read anything more about the attack or any of the many profiles of the victims which are inevitably written after each mass shooting; I couldn't bring myself to do it. After about a day had passed, I watched the heart-wrenching Jimmy Kimmel monologue, in which he opined that "It feels like someone has opened a window into hell," and I teared up.

Then, after another couple of days passed and my numbness had faded, I went outside and sat on a bench, late at night, and read through the New York Times tribute to the victims. Halfway through the first entry –– on 46-year-old Lisa Patterson, mother of 3 –– I broke down. I wept through the next 58 entries.

Out of the 59 people dead, there were left so many years un-lived, so many hopes and dreams not realized. There were so many children left without parents or parents outliving children. So many people lost close friends or family or coworkers or neighbors or significant others.

So many others will be saddled with medical costs and debilitation for the rest of their lives. Countless more will have their memories forever tinged with tragedy, marked possibly by survivor's guilt or PTSD or just general trauma and distress.

In just one night, an unbelievable amount of suffering was enacted, an immeasurable amount of damage done. A 64-year-old man with no previous criminal experience stockpiled hundreds of bullets and a shocking amount of weapons designed with no purpose other than to kill, and then he used those weapons to carry out their most logical goal.

As easy as it would be to demarcate this as a so-called "lone wolf" attack, a simple case of a deranged man bereft of morality, the truth is that the Las Vegas shooting was not an anomaly.

Far from being a mere glitch in the otherwise perfect American landscape, it was a symptom of a culture which glorifies guns and violence, a culture which holds the right to keep and bear military-grade arms designed with the express purpose of killing other human beings above the right to a safe, secure, and happy future for its citizens.

The shooting in Las Vegas was the deadliest mass shooting carried out by an individual in modern American history, but, then again, so was the Orlando shooting at Pulse Nightclub, and that happened a mere 16 months ago. In the past 477 days, there have been 521 mass shootings in America, which is more than one per day.

I mentioned before that as devastated as I was, I was never shocked by what I saw and heard about the shooting in Las Vegas. It has become routine, predictable in a way that tragedies like this should never be.

There have been times where I've wanted to write or tweet or say something about guns or violence or solidarity or the ultimate, necessary good of humanity after some attack like this and thought, "I can just wait; there will be another."

And that is heartbreaking.

I've grown up in a country in which most mass shootings barely scratch the headlines outside of local coverage. And, when one manages to reach a national audience either by circumstance and luck or by its sheer size, nothing happens.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting shocked our collective consciousness, each successive shooting has felt less and less surprising and more and more inevitable and unavoidable. Rather than trying to stop these things from happening, our politicians offer up nice but ultimately meaningless "thoughts and prayers." I do not claim to know what the solution to our problem is, but I know that it is not whatever we have been doing for the last 18 years of my life.

I am so sick and tired of waking up and reading about the year's most recent mass shooting. I am so sick and tired of watching coverage of families weeping over lost loved ones. I am so sick and tired of hearing calls for something –– anything –– to be done, with politicians acting like men, women, and children dying from the bullets shot from a legally acquired killing machine just has to be a fact of American life.

Never mind that nearly every other developed country has managed to move beyond this and has found some way to eliminate or drastically reduce deaths from mass shootings and from gun violence as a whole. See, this is America, and America is exceptional.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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10 Common Spelling And Grammar Mistakes You Need To Stop Making

Your a disappointment. *you're

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As a Professional Writing major, I am greatly disturbed by spelling and grammar mistakes. I admit I sometimes make them, but it's not because I'm too lazy to use the correct word or check my spelling. I do a lot of writing, so I'm bound to mess up when I'm rushed or otherwise distracted. I'd like to help you avoid making those mistakes. Trust me, you'll look, and feel, a lot smarter.

1. To try and go

https://giphy.com/gifs/brett-main-Rt1oTe6GlRAiI

The words 'try' and 'go' can be replaced with any verb. The point is that 'and' is not the correct word. 'To' is. Since 'to' is always followed by a verb, it should be an infinitive (to+verb). For example: I'm going to try to go to the store later.

2. To not go

https://giphy.com/gifs/bunny-grammar-St7UsUGuJU9RS

This is another example of an infinitive. 'To' always needs to come right before the verb. Instead of 'to not,' it should be 'not to.' For example: I don't know how not to think about you. (This is a line from the song How Not To by Dan + Shay, which is featured in another article of mine.)

3. I like it to

https://giphy.com/gifs/theoppositeofhate-sally-kohn-oppositeofhate-55offP4umeJUAvWwHP

If you're meaning to say 'also,' then the correct word is 'too.' When you use 'to,' it is usually followed by a verb. 'Too' is a stand-alone word that expresses agreement or addition. If someone says they like dogs, you could say, 'I like dogs, too.' It could also mean you're adding something. 'He is coming, too.' However, 'to' and 'too' are most often confused in the first case. Keep in mind that 'too' is always preceded by a comma.

4. Your pretty

https://giphy.com/gifs/hd-yLV9y5wb0Qb1m

Can we get this right, once and for all? This is the incorrect use of 'your.' 'Your' is possessive. It indicates that the following noun belongs to you. For example: Your dog; Your house; Your happiness. The correct word to precede 'pretty' is 'you're,' which is technically two words: You are. If you're trying to figure out when to use 'you're,' separate it out into its two words. If you can't use contractions properly, then don't use them.

5. Its a nice day

https://giphy.com/gifs/lz9lPkqddgoec

While it may be a nice day, that's not how you say it. 'Its,' like 'your' is possessive. The proper use would be: Every dog has its day. 'Its' is used when the gender of something is unknown or when referring to a group. In the sentence above, the correct word to use is 'it's,' which is a contraction that expands into 'it is.' Again, if it helps, don't use the contraction.

6. Their taking there vacation they're 

https://giphy.com/gifs/puppets-grammar-hGmKNYHathgJi

While this sentence may sound right, it's actually very wrong. Those three words are homonyms, which means they sound the same but have different meanings. They are not interchangeable. The proper order of the sentence above is 'They're (they are) taking their (belonging to them) vacation there (in that place).'

7. I could care less

https://giphy.com/gifs/weird-al-yankovic-word-crimes-iMrbBXl7F1HJ6

This is a pet peeve of mine. When people say this, they want to convey that they don't care at all. However, they are saying it is possible for them to care less, which means they care at least a little. The proper way to say this is 'I couldn't care less,' which means you care as little as possible.

8. I have less food then him

https://giphy.com/gifs/animography-animated-typography-font-gnDSYE7CLJDk4

'Then' is not the correct word. It should be 'than,' which is used in comparison with something else. Remember math? In x<y, x is less than y. 'Then' indicates time. 'I did this, then I did that,' or 'I was younger then.'

9. I have less than ten water bottles

https://giphy.com/gifs/english-weird-al-yankovic-supermarket-S7eS8P4HTX8K4

This may seem right because a lot of people forget about the other word that's used when 'less' doesn't work. It's 'fewer.' I admit that I, too, make this mistake from time to time. 'Less' is used when referring to mass objects such as water, food, or money. 'Fewer' is used with objects you can count, such as pillows, bottles, or tables.

10. To who

https://giphy.com/gifs/owl-grammar-family-guy-JEIRAmTTfUgYE

I bet you can guess what I'm going to say. It should be 'whom.' No, I'm not just being fancy. There are actually certain times when 'whom' should be used. You can think of 'whom' as going along with 'him' or 'them,' which also end with 'M.' It also goes with 'her.' 'To whom are you referring?' 'To him.'

Now that I've familiarized you with basic grammar and spelling, I'm going to give you a fun video to reference in case you forget. Weird Al Yankovic made a parody of Blurred Lines called Word Crimes. It's entertaining and educational.

Also, here's a moment from the show Psych that involves grammar:

Chief Vick: It goes without saying, Mr. Spencer, that your father is in no way to participate in this investigation. He's no longer on the force, and his meddling could compromise the case in court. Do I make myself clear?

Shawn: Yes, you do, Chief. What isn't clear is why people always say 'goes without saying,' yet still feel compelled to say the thing that was supposed to go without saying. Doesn't that bother you?

Chief Vick: No, and frankly, I could care less.

Gus: Now, that's the one that bothers me. Why do people say, 'I could care less' when they really mean, 'I couldn't care less?'

Chief Vick: Well, why don't you tell me how to properly say this? If you share any official information about this case with your father or let him anywhere near any new evidence, then the two of you will have to find another police department to work for, and I will personally see to it that each of you is charged with obstruction of justice.

Gus: You split an infinitive.

Shawn: Good catch, Gus!

Chief Vick: You two realize I carry a gun, right?

Gus: That was perfectly elocuted.

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