Yesterday morning, I read a news bite saying that an actor I liked was going to be in a movie that I’d likely be excited about. I wrote up a quick post about it and scheduled it to publish in the afternoon since I wanted to give my legions of readers ample opportunity to laugh at the picture of 13-year-old me I’d posted yesterday morning.
In between the time I wrote that post and the time it was supposed to be published, more than 30 people were massacred at Virginia Tech.
I wrestled with whether or not posting such a piece of inconsequential fluff was appropriate given what was going on in Blacksburg; ultimately, as you can see, I decided to go ahead with it — if I tried to stop posting out of respect for every terrible thing that happened, I’d never write anything again. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter one way or the other whether I posted that article or not, I reasoned, so up it went.
But it did matter. It mattered to me.
Much like I’d imagine most every other rational, feeling person reading the news yesterday, I felt positively nauseated by what happened. It just made no sense to me. I can wrap my head around reading news stories about dozens of civilians getting killed in Baghdad — horrendous though it is, Baghdad’s a war zone and I can understand the types of things that happen there. It’s tragic, but it’s also expected (and possibly all the more tragic for it).
But what happened yesterday, the utter randomness of it… that I can’t wrap my head around. I can’t understand why someone thinks they need to kill that many innocent people before taking their own life. I simply do not get it.
And this particular incident has shaken me far more than any previous school shooting ever did. I think that it’s because unlike when, say, Columbine happened, I’m now a parent. It’s made me think more: thinking of those kids who got shot for no other reason than being in the wrong classroom when some psychopath decided it was time to make his mark on the world… thinking of the parents of those kids, watching the news, terrified, then getting the call that their child had been senselessly murdered…
It made what I wrote yesterday insignificant. It made the majority of what I ever write feel insignificant.
I know it’s not entirely so, of course; people need entertainment to help distract them from thinking too much of the likes of what happened yesterday, and I like to discuss that entertainment and to try occasionally to provide some of it myself. But those pointless murders really helped put what I do in some sense of perspective, to remind me of what’s truly important and what isn’t. Just because writing about pop culture isn’t “important” doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it, but I’m reminded how lucky I am that I’m able to do think about the trivial so much, that my worries aren’t greater, than my family is safe and happy and healthy.
My most heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims at Virginia Tech.
Back to the frivolities of pop culture tomorrow. Tonight, I’m going to go home and give my family a few dozen extra hugs.