Last Thursday night, watching cable news and monitoring Twitter for updates on the shooting in Dallas, I re-experienced in condensed time the mixture of frustration, horror, fear and confusion we went through during the Boston Marathon bombing and the days afterward. A violent individual with self-aggrandized views of his mission to serve an inchoate cause disrupted a peaceful event through killing; the news media generated panic and spread misinformation, including a wrongly identified “suspect” (courtesy of the Dallas PD this time); and social media simultaneously amplified the confusion and provided some important fact-checking (correctly identifying an innocent, albeit armed bystander as not connected to the violence.) Like a lot of people — too many people, I wonder — I felt an urge to say something. Those sleuths and some tweets by Ijeoma Oluo aside, I think the rest of us just vomited in fear and anger. At the time of a tragedy that makes sense,  and I don’t want to police how people express their sadness or worries on social media; but I do feel the need to step back and look at the pattern that repeats itself whenever a mass shooting event takes place. We have a lot of these. I don’t want to be numb, but I don’t want to ride a hamster wheel of shock-grief-outrage uselessly. The social and news media companies who shovel information at us and allow us to shovel information at each other may provide a service, but we should use it much more warily.

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