We all have that friend on social media; the one who consistently feels the need to brighten our day with a motivational or inspirational quote.
Quotes like “Dance like no one is watching” or “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop” are popping up on social media regularly. Generally accompanied by a grainy photo of a night sky or perhaps two elderly individuals, sitting on a stoop, watching a sunset.
I stop scrolling for a moment, read the quote, and then carry on scrolling. Seconds pass, and I see another one that jumps out at me. Lit up on a bright pink background, it reads, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” Okey Dokey! My scrolling finger has nary a moment to engage before there is ANOTHER one telling me to “Seize the day.”
I scream. Don’t they know I am trying to seize the day by filling my head with Facebook nonsense, and they are interrupting my process: Coffee, laptop, glasses, and go!
I have a moment of panic: Why so many inspirational quotes this morning? Wait! Did Betty White die? I frantically check my Twitter trending feed to see what on earth happened that would generate SO MANY inspirational quotes.
Whew! Betty is OKAY – thank goodness. But wait! Something happened in Dayton, Ohio? Was there another mass shooting? Didn’t one just occur in El Paso, Texas?
I find that inspirational or motivation posts triple in frequency following an upsetting world event or tragedy. We see a few “You have to be your strongest when you are feeling at your weakest” following events like the recent horrific mass shootings in the United States last week. There are also many, many “Thoughts and Prayers” on muted yellow backgrounds interspersed throughout our timeline.
The inspirational quotes are a result of feeling helpless and confused. They are posted on social media like screams from someone drowning. They are written as a reminder to “Just keep swimming” because the waves of violence should stop, will stop. They have to stop eventually. Right?
On Sunday, I was one of those individuals silently screaming on social media. I felt bludgeoned by another wave. I wrote, “The first wave left us breathless and unsteady. As we tried to regain our composure, the second wave hit - knocking us off our feet. Then came the third wave, which completely engulfed us and we found ourselves fighting to reach the surface, our brain confused as to what was up and what was down, our lungs burning from lack of oxygen. Do we fight to survive?”
What happens to those individuals in society who simply cannot recover from these constant waves of gun violence? What happens to those people who become anxious and depressed because they cannot emotionally handle hearing about another mass shooting?
I had gone to bed reading about the tragedy in El Paso and woke to read about Dayton. This was on the heels of the shooting at the garlic festival in Gilroy, California.
It is more than humanly possible to handle - these waves.
Watch closely those around you who might be having a particularly difficult time processing this information. It doesn’t matter if we are in a different country - heartbreak and empathy know no borders.
Meanwhile, I am going to “Cry like no one is watching” as “Thoughts and Prayers” clearly aren’t making a difference.
Judy Kucharuk has thoughts and prayers. Also beliefs. These may all be the same thing.