On: January 30, 2017
Social media has made us all politicians.
We see it after every terrible event, like the horrific massacre at the Quebec City mosque. Everyday people take to Facebook and Twitter to offer their “thoughts and prayers” for those hurt or killed and their families.
They hold no title or office, and no one is expecting to see their response. But still they come.
These posts always echo the anodyne language of the politicians who rush to say something – anything really – after a tragedy that shows empathy, but without entering the more difficult terrain of addressing things like gun control or religious radicalism.
Of course, thoughts and prayers are never enough.
But perhaps it’s not surprising that people would offer these types of comments.
We feel powerless in the face of these acts of terror, and making a statement in this now widely accepted ritualistic manner is at least something, some way to be part of the happening and to represent our feelings.
In the interwoven communities created in social media we feel compelled to say something. To see our thoughts and prayers alongside the avatars of those we elected or those who speak to us from our TVs.
But as tragedies – like mass shootings or terrorist attacks – seem to multiply even while American democracy declines, will people simply become inured to this harsh reality, and tune it out for more online triviality?
Will we lose our ability to be shocked?