Don’t worry, I have no intention of commenting on the actual events of yesterday’s Boston Marathon. I know nothing you don’t know, and I’m just as horrified as you are. I generally tend to avoid following events like these that closely as they fuck with my head. I can’t sleep for days and I just feel sickened after every shooting, every bombing, and every mass killing, so I have to not be on twitter and not watch the news. Yesterday, however, I couldn’t look away. A part of me thinks that may be because I’m starting to do these big group events, races and the like, and the thought that…never mind. I’m getting off my point.
Instead, I’ve had two thoughts surrounding the tragedy at the marathon.
The first is social media. I found out about the incident because I happened to check twitter the very instant tweets started pouring in. In that aspect, social media is a beautiful thing. Before any news outlet could even think about starting to air coverage or break the story, thousands of people already knew and had already seen pictures. Hundreds of thousands of people. Everywhere. To Browncoat it- You can’t stop the signal.
What I did see that bugged me, however, was people demanding a certain behavior out of others. There was a lot of hate and anger piled on people who had scheduled tweets, or people who hadn’t seen the news, or people who chose not to comment on what had happened. I can’t tell if the issue here is the internet anger machine looking for something to grab on to, or if it’s merely an issue of projection and misplaced expectations.
Here’s how I see it: you can not expect people to be affected by events exactly as you are. You can not expect people to respond in the same way you do, feel the same things, or conform to your sudden ideals of behavior for a certain event. Nobody is under any obligation to sit around and tweet about how horrified they are. Life continues and if focusing on that is what it takes for some people to cope, so be it.
This isn’t an issue of people making jokes or being crass; I saw none of that myself. There was no truther bullshit in my feed and no conspiracies. There was a lot of shock and grief, some scheduled tweets from Penn Jillette, and a lot of tweets from Nathon Fillion just about everyday things. But many, many people were upset that some people didn’t stop tweeting or didn’t express what they felt to be the appropriate shock and horror at what had happened.
In my opinion, in a platform like Twitter, there is no Right Way to use it. Anyone you follow, you follow by choice. You don’t like someone who tweets a certain way? Don’t follow them. I can’t see much value in telling them I dislike it because I control my content, I control what I see in my stream. With the outrage yesterday at users, however, it felt like there was a lot of Bad Wrong Tweeting comments being made and I don’t feel like that’s the case. These people weren’t being vile or rude or inconsiderate, they just weren’t responding the way other people wanted them to respond. That doesn’t make them wrong, it makes those expectations wrong.
You don’t get to dictate what people say and to me, if they’re not being malicious or cruel, let them be. Your world may have stopped for a while yesterday, but that doesn’t mean everybody’s did.
Enough on that.
My husband said I’m weird for feeling this way, but the only thing I can think to do with what happened is to run a marathon. I want to train with the hopes of flying to Boston next year, and run the Boston Marathon. I can’t help the victims. I can’t help the city. But what I can do is show up next year as a big Fuck You to whoever did this, and anyone who might think like them.
Running the marathon, to me, would say “I’m not scared”. It would say, “You hurt us but you can’t stop us”. We can’t change the tragedy but we can come back from it, stronger than ever. It’s not much, and I know it won’t have that great of an impact but to me, it’s the best middle finger I can give. I guess I’d better get to running.
This was in my head all day yesterday. I can’t think Boston without thinking Dropkick Murphys; man, they love their town.