Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.Robert Kennedy
Earlier this week we were horrified to discover yet another tragedy had occurred. The mass shooting in Las Vegas flooded our hearts with fear, anxiety, distress and sadness. Some of us found out a shooting was occurring as it happened, while others of us woke to the sound of chaos and sirens on our television, or were bombarded with information online as soon as we picked up our phone or turned on the computer.
We no longer have to wait for the newspaper to arrive, or the evening news, to discover what is happening in the world. Sadly the recent number of tragedies has filled many of us with unease, as if we are waiting in fear of what catastrophe will happen next. We don’t usually have to wait long to find out if a tragedy has occurred since social media has made sharing information immediate, convenient and almost obligatory. In the event of a disaster, this instant access to every distressing detail can often be emotionally overwhelming.
Information Is No Longer Just From The Television Station
Social media has changed the manner in which we receive information. This advance to accessing and providing timely communication does have many positive benefits.
- The light social media shines on individuals, and the world, can allow us to feel more open and connected to the world.
- Helps us to ensure that our distant friends are safe if they use the Facebook Safety check feature in the event of a tragedy
- Makes staying in touch with friends and family more possible
- Chatting on social media can provide a sense of belonging or unity
- Provides humor, education or entertainment
- Offers a place to come together, find comfort, support and share with others
- Reassures us that there are good people who care and allows us to heal over a senseless act or tragedy
This transparency can serve to help, or hurt, a situation, and affect our emotions. Social media can bring us together, or the light it shines upon fear can drive us apart.
How Much Social Media Is Too Much in the Face of Tragic Events?
Often fear and anxiety are stirred with tragic events. When a tragedy occurs many seek answers for an injustice when none are readily available. This can result in an increased emotional response. Thus, the process of healing from the tragedy is compounded with additional stress from those who lack an outlet for their anger and fear may turn to social media. Often over venting our thoughts and feelings about the tragedy may exacerbate what we are feeling instead of giving us relief. In fact it is almost akin to re-experiencing the trauma over and over again. The same may be though for those of us who almost obsessively stay in tune with what is happening. A way to determine if we are receiving benefit from our experience on social media, or if it is emotionally detrimental is asking ourselves, are we feeling better or worse?
For more tips on coping with increased anxiety and fear in the event of a tragedy, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that you are able to find comfort and support in others to heal in the event of a tragedy.
-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling