Is it time to retire post-mass shooting "thoughts and prayers" condolences? | The Tylt
With 998 mass shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012, Americans have had nearly 1000 different opportunities to offer victims and survivors their thoughts and prayers, in speeches and on social media. It's become a standard line — one that has stopped resonating with much of the American public.
Is "thoughts and prayers" an annoying, insensitive cliché that needs to be retired? Or are these sincere offers of condolences in the face of tragedy?
Critics of "thoughts and prayers" argue several things: that especially when it comes to gun violence, giving victims your "thoughts and prayers" seems like a copout, especially if you believe action, education, organizing, advocacy, and voting are what the country needs to address the problem. It can also come across as hypocrisy: many of the political leaders tweeting about thoughts and prayers are the same ones who refuse to take any steps to address gun violence, with many of them receiving funding from the National Rifle Association.
Even if you're not a politician, does tweeting a hashtag like #PrayForOrlando help anyone? Maybe it does. Prayer certainly does help believers, and for many people, saying "I'm praying for you" is just a shorthand way of communicating compassion to others. For victims and survivors of a tragedy, seeing awareness spread on social media might actually be comforting and make them feel less alone. After a mass shooting, people feel helpless—changing their profile picture, or tweeting a hashtag makes them feel less so.
What do you think?
Is it time to retire post-mass shooting "thoughts and prayers" condolences?
My therapist is saved in my phone as “thoughts and prayers” because she never fixes anything either.— golden state spice (@goldengateblond) June 13, 2016
America can't protect its citizens from angry men with guns, but has gotten very good at saying "thoughts and prayers" after mass shootings.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) June 12, 2016
If only "thoughts and prayers" meant "change laws to save lives."— Jon Risinger (@JonRisinger) June 12, 2016