I am with you completely on this.
You certainly hit the nail on the head with that one.
It also gets more of a reaction because it's more unusual. I think the general zeitgeist is that Iraq is completely screwed up and that people are getting blown up/shot/killed every day out there, so one more set of bombs doesn't surprise us or peak our interest. We've become numb to it and it's not really "news" anymore.
Yet, we see our universities as safe and while school shootings have happened before they are few and far between - and usually happen at high schools, not colleges, so it's far more shocking to our senses.
It's not that we don't care about other people, it's that we are more interested in the unexpected than the expected.
Nope. Dozens of people died in a tsunami in the Solomon Islands just a month ago, and it didn't even register. It took hundreds of thousands dying in the Indonesia region for people to notice. But if it had happened in Florida, you can bet there would be posts.
Part of it is the shock factor, but that's not all of it.
This has been my stance since the tragedy, but I'm biased. Thank you for bringing it to light so eloquently.
I will say that the hand wringing and wailing that people did after 9/11, people with NO CONNECTION TO IT, drove me nuts. It actually angered me. It was as if they enjoyed the attention, the mourning. It was so PUBLIC, and it in a way made it harder to cope with.
You know I still get questions from strangers about where did I live, was I there, etc. And I don't know to give them the simple 'no I wasn't" and leave it at that, or tell them the connections I did have -- my fears are that I will be more fodder for their public mourning -- oh I met this person and she was ok but she lost x, y, z and this that and the other thing happened to her. And I don't want to feed that.
And I am sure this will now happen to any future VT grad -- did you, did you know, did you see, did you hear...
Yeah, the impulse to make oneself part of it really bugs me. Be grateful that you aren't!
I don't know. I had a conversation with two of my co-workers yesterday about how we felt sad, but not totally grief-stricken by the VT shootings. We each reflected that perhaps it is because we have become inured to these types of events because we hear about them so often on the news, especially in news about Iraq. Thirty-two people shot is a tragedy. But it is a tragedy we've heard about in a daily basis, reported to us in almost a passing way. "In other news, 37 people were killed in a roadside bombing of a bus in a Baghdad market. Now let's give you an update on Britney Spears."
Of course, this points to something even more unfortunate: my coworkers and I are becoming blase about human tragedy no matter how close or removed it is from us. This is going to keep me up tonight.
It's not so much whether you feel or don't feel the depth of the tragedy - certainly we all have a higher level of shock from that which is unexpected. It's the artifice of some people who want to clutch the tragedy to their hearts as their own, like they somehow are personally wounded by these deaths, but don't care at all about other tragedies.
Saw that myself - and considering doing the post myself. Take something totally pedestrian in nature - how many people are killed today on the freeways, for example? Would you even know about it?
Well, to be slightly contrarian I would say there is a slight difference. We've come to rationalize the killings in Iraq as part of a rebellion or religious movement. We can admit it serves some purpose.
The Vtech incident, on the other hand, has no rational explanation other than some dude became irrational, which is a terrifying thing to realize.
Also, color me cynical, but if we were to truly care about each and every death in the world, would we not go insane?
I was going to make the exact same post today.
But it doesn't. Virginia Tech actually shocked and appalled us because we can interpose our lives on those people.
Or because it is completely unexpected. At least it is when it happens here.
At Tech (lived there 5 years), any shooting is unexpected...33 deaths + how many wounded? Completely unheard of.
I can understand why people would react differently to a bomb going off in a nation at war. I suppose one could argue that if you're going to shed a tear for one senseless death, you must shed an equal tear for all senseless deaths, but I don't think that is realistic to expect anyone to do that.
I haven't heard about people who can't function because of the tragedy. I've heard people empathise with the parents, families, and friends (I am one of them)...but unable to function? If you didn't personally know one of the victims, that's a bit odd.
Where is the sympathy for the families in Iraq?
And yeah, while it is more of a shock, the overreaction is what gets me.
I guess so. My friendslist didn't really make mention of either event, but most of my friendslist isn't American. It's probably a bad sign that school shootings in America are kind of on a scale for us with bombings in the Middle East - it's happened enough that we think it's sad, and that the relevant country is messed up, but there's not really a lot to say about it.
I don't think we don't care because it's a different country - the first times it happened this country freaked out too, it's just... there's nothing left to say.
But I would generally assume that someone who "cannot function" because of something that happened to a bunch of people they don't know at all is being a bit of a drama queen anyway.
Thanks for an "out of country" perspective - it does emphasize that we tend to favor our own, no matter who we are.
(And, yeah, drama queen is definitely the right call.)
Having grown up less than an hour from VA Tech, my shock and grief are at the shattering of my home. Where I grew up was a sleepy, idyllic setting. A place where nothing ever happens.
Certainly not a place where some random guy grabs a gun and ruthlessly murders 32 people.
I had this conversation with my best friend, who actually attended VA Tech. It's not about the murders, for us. It's about the fact that we were there. It's supposed to be safe. Baghdad, Iraq is not a place that is safe, to us.
It's like hearing about muggings or gang activity in New York City- ok, yeah. That stuff happens. It doesn't happen in Blacksburg/Roanoke/Salem that often- it would be news, and surprising, in a similar fashion.
It's not that you reacted - of course you reacted - it's that people who are a long way from it act like it's a huge impact on them personally, and that they don't care at all when it's not new drama. That's the part that bugs me.
Your position and mine are similar, which is why I listed what was weighing on my mind yesterday
in the order of world, national, and personal.
I'm peculiar, anyway, since I don't watch or listen to any news programs other than the BBC. It's not perfect, but it's far closer to balanced news than anything broadcast in America.
I appreciate the BBC coverage that we do get, though it seems to be polluted with Americanism more and more these days....