Following the latest tragic mass shooting in Louisiana last night wherein a lone gunman killed two people and injured 10 others before taking his own life, I estimate that our office conversation this morning about the event lasted roughly 15 seconds before turning to Donald Trump having said that the arresting officer in the Sandra Bland case had acted inappropriately (admittedly, another totally unexpected turn from the pale-lipped living cartoon character who has so greatly entertained us all for the past few weeks).
So, that’s where we’re at with gun violence now. It’s so frequent and expected that it barely warrants less than a minute of discussion. And I have to imagine the same thing played itself out in workplaces all over the country: a brief acknowledgement of the tragedy, probably some private thought about how each of us were glad it hadn’t been us or someone we know in the theater, and then business as usual.
Just to be clear, this is 100% the truth — within less than 30 seconds, the conversation turned from the mass shooting to people laughing and joking about something else entirely.
I’m not at all blaming anyone I work with for this reaction. It’s human nature to become inured to things that happen frequently, even if they are shocking and terrible in the extreme. It’s part of [a built-in self-preservation mechanism in our brains](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desensitization_(psychology)). If we felt just as saddened and terrified by every mass shooting that occurs in this country (the second one in two weeks, by the way. You barely remember the Chattanooga shooting, right? That was just last Wednesday) every time it happened, we would go insane. So, your mind adapts and turns its attention away from it as quickly as possible so you can continue to live your life and not be crippled by fear.
As we all know by now, it is the relentless media coverage of these terrible events that ironically both desensitizes us to them and perpetuates further acts of gun violence,which in turn further desensitizes us to gun violence. And we are now so trapped in this cycle as a nation that it’s hard to realistically imagine a way out of it. To that point, it is truly too exhausting to even touch on the cyclical rhetoric and deeply flawed logic we’re about to hear from pro-gun factions in the coming days.
So, I guess the takeaway is that we’re all just fine with all of this now. It’s like traffic or the weather — we just accept it as out of our control and move along with our lives.
Obviously, this isn’t a comedic article; it’s not even an original point. But it is really and truly what happened at our office in New York today, and maybe at your office too. And it’s awful, and it’s our reality.