An Open Letter To Smart People On My Facebook Who Are Too Smart To Feel

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I don’t want to see another social media posting about Charlie Hebdo for as long as I live, because motherfuckers on my Facebook care more about looking smart with the articles they post and hearing both sides than they care about murder.

This piece narrowly goes out to friends and people I respect, people so smart that their too caught up in their intelligence to process the basic, terrible horrible truth without couching it in thought and academia. This goes out to those who preach balance and restraint and “gotta hear both sides” to the point of paralysis. I’m talking specifically about those who exist in self-proud echo chambers, each one upping each other and congratulating themselves for their virtues.

I don’t want to read your backlash to the backlash piece.

This is a narrow, maddening problem that I need to share because it makes me twitch. I specifically am mad at those caught in echo chambers of agreement using this as an opportunity to harden their hearts with what they thought before.

I don’t want to read about how you’re not condoning murder, you know, but this was in bad taste, this was provocative, this was offensive, free speech doesn’t mean everything has to be said, or any other cowardly, smug attempt to balance murder with crass cartoons as though it’s cause and effect. I’m tired of minimizing, nitpicky reactions that care more about the feelings and ideas that preceded the murders of over a dozen people in Paris. Geez, we get it; you’re smarter and more liberal than everyone for taking such a removed, distant and smug stance. God forbid you share it and collect the likes and comments, taking the sort of comfortable social stance social media encour

What about the hostages taken and killed in the Kosher grocery store? They’re minimized, because there’s no smart, edgy nitpicky piece to write.

Life isn’t a word problem, you fuckers. And there’s a dangerous, maddening trend to turn politics into sports, where every opportunity is taken to advance one’s side. In the age of the internet, where echo chambers are common if not inevitable, it’s easier than ever to shift gradually to extremes and find yourself in communities that allow intellectual incubation rather than mandatory rigor.

Please don’t let it blind you, or allow the gravity of your opinions bend facts around them. Please don’t get too busy arguing over facts to open your hearts to the victims, to the city, to freedom of speech and those fearing reprisals for the acts of madmen.

***

I was in Boston during the marathon bombing.

This feels exploitative to even write about, especially because I wasn’t even at the marathon, but Boston is my city, and I was supposed to be between the bombs to meet a friend by the finish line.

Oversleeping might have saved a leg.

She was between the bombs, and told me about the blood that took days to be mopped up. Another friend almost tripped on a severed limb. A third, my Freshman year roommate found that he was lightly grazed, either by the shrapnel or the chaos that followed.

I heard similar stories from my friends- all my housemates went, after all- as I tried to make sure everyone I knew was safe and alive. I was in a coffee shop, and I learned about it on Twitter- Twitter– and I had the dubious honor of having to announce what happened to the coffee shop I was in.

Phones were jammed. Transportation a mess. My friends trudged back, and we got take-out, I remember. Not knowing what else to do, we watched Game of Thrones.

The suspects, you may remember, escaped, just like in Paris, where they shot a police officer and were shooting through the MIT area. We heard the gunshots from the hill. We were officially on lockdown, but we mostly ignored it. We silently watched the news in sandwich shops, skipping class and work, fatigued from worry and confusion.

And I remember how little you cared.

You, you, you. On Twitter, on Facebook, people were talking about this like a game, with narratives aligned to politics, left or right. Everyone had opinions or jokes and I felt stupid for caring, for being there. I was embarrassed to be a little scared- embarrassed to, a few days later, be running for my life from imagined gunshots I firmly believed I’d heard.

I was so silly; didn’t I read the think-pieces? Watch the news? Everything was dried abroad, and my feelings were suddenly co-opted for political gain.

When the internet stretches the immediate and present to the broad and theoretical, humanity is wrung out for points and thoughts.

***

I started this piece mad and sad and specific. I already regret the tone I took in the first half, the wide, frustrated thrashing I did, but I won’t edit it out. Erasing the emotions, the fear and confusion, after all, removes the human from our lives, and again reduces horrific events to dry facts to be parceled out and twisted into narratives when we should do the opposite.

Please, in the face of tragedy, lean towards acceptance of the emotional and love. Don’t drown yourself in thinking; allow yourself to process and feel. TC mark

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