Some things in life are awful. Accidents, trauma, disease can cut down anyone, at any time.
But when innocent people die from the violent act of another, words fail us.
We are left searching desperately for ways to console those most affected. When the violence is intended to intimidate we also find the need to console ourselves.
And we do. We support each other in the extreme times. Ways are found from putting out cricket bats to pavements full of flowers with the word spread far and wide through social media.
The good rapidly mobilised to push away the bad.
The modern world is so small that everyone knows about extreme events as they happen. We are so in touch that we feel close, almost part of the unfolding scene. In an instant, we are re-posting and commenting our thoughts and feelings. It is like a fire blanket thrown to suppress the flames.
And it works.
The Lindt café siege in Sydney in 2014 was a terrorist act but not about terrorism. The authorities figured this out quickly and refused to lay blame until they had more evidence. Experts came onto the television news and said the same thing reminding us that it is never smart to make assumptions about who was responsible.
So when irresponsible TV media sensationalised for their own ends the blanket smothered them. We don’t want to assign any credit by association, so those who did looked like chumps. Social media called them on their stupidity and shamed them for trying it on.
Instead, the focus was, mostly, on the collective coming together in mutual empathy because we all felt the same. Anger, fear and a little loathing yes, but also courage to stand together and stare it all down.
This new social pressure has the potential to change the reporting of tragic events. ‘If it bleeds it leads’ may still be true only it now has hashtags of uplift for victims and social support for everyone.
Maybe the days of the media mogul bent on global domination through fear mongering are coming to an end.
Wouldn’t that be a fine thing?