At least 84 people are dead after a man in a truck plowed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, on Thursday. The past few weeks have been so inundated with news like this that it's easy to ask yourself "how should I react?"
In the wake of any tragedy we see tweets, social media grandstanding, and bleeding hearts. We turn people's names into hashtags to commemorate who they once were or, perhaps more accurately, what they now represent. We get passionate about issues on a whim and as news from halfway around the world interrupts our lives. We let feelings of loss consume us and we make noise about injustices in the world.
But does the noise matter?
I've made noise in the past. Hell, last week I felt passionate about the unjust killings of two black men in the United States. After watching footage of the Dallas shootings I felt cold chills running down my spine. I felt empathy, I felt like I needed to do something, then I forgot about it and moved on.
I struggle with that. I don't think it's apathy and I don't think it's a lack of empathy either. I heard the news yesterday and for 15 minutes I was genuinely hurt before I started thinking about whether or not I should have pizza for dinner. I've never felt deeply connected to any recent tragedy but I have felt inundated with calls to action on social media that I don't always feel compelled to join because I don't know if it helps. I struggle with my own ability to truly do anything. My initial outrage seems to fade with the trending topics.
Reconciling how we deal with tragedy isn't something that can be done in a morning. I believe we can all grieve in a way that makes sense to us. Social media grieving has validity for some people but I wish some of us, including myself, were more concerned with what comes after the trending topic.
Contributing to conversations that we're passionate about is important but it's more important the we keep the conversation going a week later. I want to see the people still talking about Nice when the world's moved on to a new tragedy because France will still be recovering. It's important to take a cause to the finish line and not ride it because it's a trending topic. Just find your passion for change and pursue it.
I don't like bogging my life down in tragedy. I don't really believe my contributions to the conversation on social media mean anything. I'm so inundated with tragedy that I think nothing of it. I opt out. I'd rather get caught up in the trivial details of my own life. I know that seems terrible but it's just how I feel.
However, I do hope that if you are the person leading the charge on social media that you'll make it your mission to seek out change. I hope that if you're making noise you're using it constructively instead of leveraging tragedy just to be heard. We are all capable of driving change but it doesn't happen in 48 hours with a trending topic it happens with dedication and passion.
I sometimes believe that my writing does nothing. It's just noise in an already crowded room but I'll continue doing it with the hope that it does inspire some of you.
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