Tragedy, Politics, and Grief in an Age of Immediacy and Networks

I’ve been working on a blog post for awhile now about digital identity, in an effort to get my ePortfolio and blog up and running before the craziness of a new semester sets in. I thought that soon, maybe today, I’d finally click publish on that post.

But then, just as I was gathering the courage to post, this Sunday my social media feeds exploded with sadness and injustice and hate, and I felt that I needed to write something different. I watched as news broke about the killing of an unarmed black teen in Missouri by police. Through the tweets of a few people in my Twitter feed, I followed the emerging stories of racism and violence and grief.

Yesterday, those stories continued. Last night, I saw tweets and news stories about the protests in Ferguson and about the rubber bullets and tear gas being used on protesters. And amidst all this, I learned of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, which sparked an outpouring of grief, of sympathy, and of support for other sufferers of depression across both my Twitter and Facebook feeds.

I’ve seen it before, but perhaps the confluence of these very different tragedies made it more apparent. Networks, the Internet, our digital existence — all of this has changed the way we grieve and experience sadness and loss. Tragedies no longer break in the mainstream media — they break on Twitter, through the voices of the many, not the few.

In a networked world, tragedy and grief are quick to appear and then remain ever-present. There are constant reminders of those we’ve lost and of horrific events; it is hard to escape tragedy when it is everywhere in our new feeds. Of course, networks can bring support, comfort, and a feeling of solidarity, especially when we are far, physically, from those we love. But the immediacy and ubiquity of the news of tragedies also seems to bring quick politicization. In some ways, this is a positive — the coverage on social media will (hopefully) bring necessary attention to the events in Ferguson, Missouri. The outpouring of sadness in the wake of Robin Williams’ death may generate much-needed awareness about mental illness.

But the immediate politicization of tragey is also problematic. In the wake of the Ferguson shooting, I saw an argument arise on Twitter between two activists, Suey Park and Tim Wise, about the idea of privilege and the appropriate ways of being an ally in discussions of race. After Robin Williams’ death, debates over suicide and mental illness sprang up on social media. This is not new: after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, there were immediate calls for gun-control, for arming teachers, for tighter screening of gun owners.

These conversations are important, no doubt. We need to talk about the entrenched racism that surrounds the events in Ferguson. We need to discuss mental illness, and guns, and privilege, and all of the other hard issues that tragedies bring to the surface.

But perhaps, first, we need a little time to mourn, alone or together, individually or through our networks. Perhaps, as outsiders looking in on tragic situations, we can just let grief be grief, for a little while at least.

17 thoughts on “Tragedy, Politics, and Grief in an Age of Immediacy and Networks

  1. Most of these and also announcements just like these ar just what
    mothers across the nation will probably be examining in acknowledgment credit cards along with experiencing coming from spouse and
    children this kind of end of the week. Although, pertaining to moms WHICH keep jobs,
    one particular reality is missing coming from these pricey statements.

    exactly where can be how the minute card that statements cheers \”For as being a functioning new mother really region in which rarely gives a person the particular you hope as well as deserve\”?

    Females frame virtually 1/2 the staff members inside the u.
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    And also women, family members, firms along with each of our
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    Using countrywide conversation all around textbooks such as
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    of the operate conditions that have on young ladies and
    also parents split as a result of. nevertheless interest has
    typically been devoted to alittle as well as professional portion of your workers,
    in addition to it\’s not really translated in broad-based fed amount advance about policies that might facilitate.

    Consequently, this particular Mother\’s Evening, most of us will
    usually in the Nationwide Partnership for ladies & People ar brooding with regards to some new messages involving sensation pertaining to America\’s parents — kinds of which larger hand mirror the
    remarkable action it\’s to become one currently:

    \”For offering for the family members despite the fact that you happen to be getting property although men… many thanks, Mother. \” girls with
    virtually every place of the land ar even now paid but adult males — also after
    career along with education and learning amount ar accounted
    pertaining to. for this reason we wish this check
    out Fairness Act, which can combat damaging discriminatory spend methods in this nation\’s workplaces.

    \”For doing all your ideal in an exceedingly land where ever young ladies ar nevertheless released or even pushed from their own tasks for starting to be expecting a baby… appreciate it, Mum. \” Half a dozen throughout five girls WHICH provide beginning really once-a-year quantity additionally operate through that point, even so expecting a baby staff ar even now pressured out from
    the do the job by means of employers which refuse to make all of them inexpensive hotels — like carrying any jar :
    that might permit these to carry on managing.

    The actual Pregnant staff Fairness React would facilitate to
    be able to stop this blatant discrimination.

    \”For qualified along with delivering on your loved ones even though what you are doing n’t have the right for you to make one particular settled tired evening… thanks, Mother. \” whenever they find the breathing illness or even a child becomes streptococcal uncomfortable
    tonsils, over 40 trillion staff members with this region got to choose from
    health insurance and the verify on account of
    they can\’t gain paid out unwell days. These staff, together with
    hundreds of thousands WHOM ar mothers, want this
    nation’s paid unwell nights normal the particular Wholesome Individuals
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    \”For having a baby from the only particularly business nation of which doesn\’t assurance you just about any paid out day time devoid of work to in order to for that reason… thanks, Mom. \” As a substitute
    infographic from the Nationwide Collaboration illustrates, this
    u. s. is 1 in all of the entirely some of says of which
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    brand new mother. basically 11 s. d connected with private segment employees have paid out spouse and children get away from and exclusively fourty r.
    g with the personnel will be entitled to compensated professional medical keep.
    it\’s free time exercise for a countrywide paid out get away from insurance
    policies plan.

    These kind of emails — and that they extremely exclusively
    the start the top of troubles America\’s managing moms face — demonstrate the great power and resilience regarding moms WHO carry jobs in this country.
    however they moreover disclose some sort of
    stark and unwanted truth: many of us will usually ar removed from making certain mothers your equal rights, truthful
    remedy along with assistance they worth.

    The good thing is, some says do higher. This past year, the actual
    Countrywide Alliance released a report, Planning on better, particularization your legal
    guidelines many states have got passed to help fill
    the gaps within national requirements. everyone knows
    that at the very least seven claims need to have many companies to
    generate affordable hotels to be able to expectant staff members.
    knowning that most of us ar experiencing amazing energy around
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    merely inside the few days, your new york authorities
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    that you can get previously inside Connecticut, San francisco bay area, Oregon,
    Deborah. G., urban center and, rapidly, Portland, Or.

    However a new patchwork connected with insurance policies isn\’t the result working mums want —
    or perhaps advantage. merely feel: Could customers regarding Our elected representatives
    become prepared to mail these kind of emails on their
    mothers? And then precisely why are not recommendations identical
    to the check out Fairness React, the particular Expecting staff Justness
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    maximum things?

    This Mother\’s Day, let\’s imagine the $64000 emails we\’re causation parents by
    simply faltering to ascertain the family unit helpful do the job requirements they have.
    And also let\’s insist of which lawmakers accomplish something with regards to
    this.

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