The Opposite of Life

I heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary via Twitter while my hairstylist adjusted my cape and talked about color. I share this not to dramatically set a scene, but to explain why 15 minutes later a woman walked up to me and asked me if I would like a complimentary hand massage as I sat there crying. She had no idea I was crying, of course, so when I looked up at her and swiped my eyes she immediately asked me if I was okay. This garnered the attention of the two women and one hair stylist next to me. I had all eyes on me, and for once I was thrilled because I needed someone, several someones, to tell me they were equally horrified.

I waved my hand in the air as if that explained everything, and when it didn’t I stuttered around with, “I’m fine, I mean I’m not fine. I can’t stop crying about what’s happening in Newton–I mean what’s happened in Newtown. I mean, the shootings. I’m upset over the shootings. Those poor children. The parents!”

The woman fiddled with the lotion cap–Aveda Hand Relief–and waved her hand in the air as if that explained everything, too. “Oh, you mean that? Yeah, I just heard about that in the back. So crazy!”

One of the women next to me had heard nothing about it; when I explained what was going on she shuddered and went back to her phone. She was talking to her daughter about gifts for her grandson. The hairstylist next to me gave me a sympathetic smile and her client turned to me and gave me a frowny face. She pursed her lips, downturned her mouth, and brought her eyebrows together so that they could meet in the middle of her very smooth forehead. It’s the same expression I used two weeks ago when I found out the pair of TOMS I wanted were sold out.

Then she flipped her hair, turn her head left to right so she could admire her highlights from all sides and said, “Looks great!” to her hair stylist in the mirror.

I blinked twice and swung my head back to the woman with the lotion.

“So, does this mean you don’t want your complimentary hand massage?”

I stared at her a moment before saying, “No, I would not like my complimentary hand massage. Thank you.”

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, it should come as no surprise to you that I am going to be taking a few days off, possibly through the end of the year, though I hope I can pull it together before then. I am angry, and I need to step away before my passion supersedes my logic; before I write what can’t be erased; before I offend beyond apology; before I tap on the shoulders of a select group of bloggers and corporations and say, “You, sir, are an asshole.”

After I passed up on an opportunity for a complimentary hand massage, I settled into the business of checking Twitter obsessively for updates on the shootings in Newtown. For every update on body count, I had to scroll past 10 promoting sales, free shipping, and blog posts.

Let me be perfectly clear: I know most of these were automated tweets, and that in a state of shock, most bloggers forgot to deactivate them and, instead, sat there stupefied once the news broke. I can hardly blame anyone for that since I sat there numb for hours and hours.

Also, before I go on, let’s not forget I’m the jerk with the Christmas cards that feature rifles and Wild West attire. They went out before everything happened and people should be getting them today. So, you know, there’s that little piece of poetic justice.

I am hardly blameless or without fault.

I’ve had a few days to think about this, and I think what troubled me most about Friday is that so few slowed down. No, that’s not right, either. What troubled me most was that so many people were offended by those of us who thought we should slow down and put the self promotion on pause while we gave a moment of silence to the 20 children and 6 adults who died in the 2nd worst mass shooting in US history.

Andrea feels the way I do, and last night I had to defend our position on Facebook. I had to defend why we felt intentional self promotional tweets in the hours following a national tragedy were in poor taste.

Pardon my language, but what the fuck is that? Who are we? Who have we become and who are we becoming when we are so desensitized to violence and tragedy that the 4th mass shooting in almost as many years shares space with Family Circle’s recipe for Apple Stuffed Pork Roast?

We–that includes me–are becoming people shackled to our livelihoods. We are becoming people who can’t turn off, can’t slow down, and can’t look past what is happening inside our own glass box. We are the opposite of life. We are becoming indifferent.

I’ll be back when I’m not pissed at the world.

Update: Read this and this.

Comments
74 Responses to “The Opposite of Life”
  1. EB says:

    Agree, agree, agree!

  2. stacey says:

    We were at a Christmas function on Saturday and two older men couldn’t figure out why the flag was at half mast. When I told them, they didn’t even register a response.I wanted to shake them! I teach 1st graders I am in a portable classroom, I keep thinking where could I hide the kids? I have been devastated all weekend, hiding in the closet to cry at weird intervals…..I think we have become so screen oriented (tv cellphone, computer, kindle) that we have forgotten what is real. And no, I don’t want to have a fucking gun at school!

  3. Susan G says:

    Again, thank you for being the way you are – and being willing to say it out loud.

  4. I was angry on Friday. Really, really angry. I work in social media for a living. I promote for individuals and companies who are too busy to promote themselves, so they pay me to do it. Most of the time, it’s a great gig…until something like this happens.

    On Friday, I was spitting-nails mad when I inquired if they would like me to express condolences to the town of Newtown (not even using the “P’ word – you know…”prayer”, just a general, “our thoughts are with” tweet). I was told to remove the tweet I had already sent (very, very general) and to say nothing on Facebook. Why? “We don’t feel that we should make a statement on it.” A STATEMENT? Excuse me?? I saw the auto-tweets going out…I may even have a few myself…but when I asked if I could turn the client’s tweets off for the rest of Friday, I was told, “No, we don’t think so.” SPITTING. NAILS. MAD. I was angry. You can’t make a “statement” as a human on a tragedy like this?? Why in the **** not?!?!

    I was angry at those who took death of 20 small children and 7 adults and turned it political (excuse me, but can we hold the political hot button issue of gun control until AFTER we finish processing what just happened?!?!). I was angry when people kept asking me to create pages for self promotion of products – so angry, I finally said, “No. I’m sorry – no, no I’m NOT sorry! I cannot focus on work today.”

    Friday night, I already had the funeral of a 24-year old husband to attend – I was already shaken after dealing with the fact that his wife of 2 years came home the Friday before to find him dead on the floor of their house. No idea why (they’re still waiting to find out). I was angry that someone could walk into a classroom and mindlessly kill children. I, who am not a kid person, not the least bit maternal, was moved to tears throughout the day on Friday. I was glued to the computer, refreshing every few minutes to get the latest.

    This is my last week to work in social media for the year, and I’m glad, because I need a break. In the grand scheme of things, I want to look at these people and say, “Who cares?” Who cares if they sell a product, promote a post, give a discount? Who cares if people like their Facebook page or #FF them on Twitter? People have lost touch with reality. And no, Jules. You are not alone. You have a heart, and I appreciate that.

    Merry Christmas.

  5. Kelly says:

    Thank you, Jules. I can picture your salon scenario all too well. Thankfully, I wasn’t subjected to that kind of response on Friday — I was home, unable to turn off the tv, forcing myself to stay put and not go bring my kids home from school.

    After turning off my computer for the weekend, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of what is showing up in my Google reader this morning. Either don’t show up at all, or do and acknowledge, but the business-as-usual, “did y’all have a fab weekend?!” posts have left me with a really bad feeling. (I don’t Tweet, and thankful for that today.)

  6. candice says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I turned on my computer, naively expecting to commiserate with other bloggers but instead I got the usual fare of diy and Christmas decorations. Yes I understand automatic updates but come on! Real life is happening and what’s the point of blogging if not to respond to real life? I almost threw a few “what is wrong with you?” Comments into the blogosphere universe but I saw your post just in time. Maybe a step away from the computer will be a better response.

  7. Beverly says:

    I completely understand where you are coming from Jules and I do agree with you, but I can also see it from the point of view of the other salon patrons and the stylists. I was working on Friday (I’m a secretary in a law firm) and an attorney walked by and was very mad (and kept exclaiming so), as he had just seen the news of what happened in Newtown. Was I horrified when I read the news myself? …yes. Did I immediately text my children (16 and 20) and tell them I love them? …yes. Did I break down and cry and expect others to react the same way?! …no. My workplace is no place for that and the salon patrons and stylists may have felt the same way. The patrons may have left and immediately started crying. The stylists may have gone into a private room and wept. I don’t think it’s our place to assume anyone should have the same reaction as we do. Everyone grieves and processes things in their own way.

    • Ris says:

      Beverly, I have to agree. Everyone processes tragedies like this in their own way (and at their own pace). The enormity of Friday’s events might not have hit the other patrons with the sudden force Jules felt. I was in HS when 9/11 happened and while I was at work that night (I was a waitress) a woman stormed in and demanded to speak to the manager and know why the restaurant was still operating. I lived in Austin, not New York or DC. I understood her anger and frustration, but the beautiful thing about life, even amidst tragedy, is that it will go on.

      • Jules says:

        Thanks for disagreeing with me so respectfully. :) Here are my thoughts.

        My issue isn’t really with the salon and patrons. It was more to show that I experienced a steady stream of unresponsiveness from the beginning. I understand the need for decorum and composure in a place of business. Also, I understand that many people will not cry when faced with a tragedy. Some people respond stoically (me, usually, though not on Friday), some people respond with nervous laughter (my best friend), some people get lost in their work (my dad alllll the way), etc. etc. That said, I believe there is a difference between business decorum and composure and indifference. In this case, especially with the girl with the frowny face, it was indifference. I wish you were there to see it, because you would know that this was a person who really didn’t care. She looked in the mirror at her stylist and rolled her eyes. I did a poor job describing her lack of concern in the post. My fault.

        My main point with this post is not about how individual people have or should respond to any tragedy, let alone one of such magnitude. My main frustration comes from the response from corporations and business owners. I am not saying you have to stop performing as a business–in fact, as I mentioned above, getting lost in work is how many people grieve (my mom forced my dad to cancel work and go to his mother’s death bed and then funeral). I’m saying they should consider putting off certain business related tasks things until the dust settles. Marketing, for example.

        You can’t tell me that Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Dove, KMART, and countless, countless other major corporations had to continue marketing on Twitter. I refuse to believe there was not one other business related task they could accomplish in what would have amounted to a 3 hour downtime.

        Reply to emails.
        Handle small administrative tasks.
        Work on your business plan.
        Check reports.
        Consult a public relations firm.

        There are countless items that could have been tackled. Social media didn’t have to be one of them, and I believe this course of action will come with negative repercussions. I’m not alone thinking this way, though I admit I am the minority from what I have seen on Facebook, Twitter, et al.

        Beverly, I commend you for maintaining you composure (having worked in a firm, I would have, too) and that you made your way through the day, step by step. But I will bet you didn’t go to Twitter and tell your followers that your firm is offering a discount on Bankruptcies and Estate Planning while the news was still coming in. (I have no idea where you practice, those are just examples.)

        Take away the self righteous anger, and that’s all I’m saying. Having said that, you are still well within your rights to tell me to pound sand. :)

        • Andrea Howe says:

          Several companies, including the company I write for, Disney, went silent on Friday on their FB page. They wrote a brief note of acknowledgement and condolence and stopped ALL means of interaction on their FB page throughout the entire weekend. DISNEY, a mega corporation as big as they come. Usually the weekends are a very busy time on their FB page, and they update several times throughout the weekend with blog posts (like the ones I write), and product posts. Yes, they still went about business as usual in their online and brick and mortar stores, but in the category of social media they went silent.

          I’ve thought A LOT about this the past 3 days. I’ve asked myself why it bothers me so much. I’ve even wondered if it has anything to do with the fact that at 18 I lost my brother when he was shot and killed, and we still have not found his murderer. Duh, I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.

          In the grand scheme of things, discussions about gun control, and school security, and how we deal with mental illness are all supremely important parts of the conversations we need to be having as parents, and as humans. But what is also important, is the conversation of how we as an online community and country react and deal with tragedies like this, in terms of social media and our online engagement. We love to point fingers at violent movies and video games and the role they play in desensitizing our youth. But can we also face the tough question of how social media in some ways has desensitized us adults (and kids too)? Do a quick google search and you will find countless articles and posts about how we are wanting more and more instant gratification of online enrichment, and are ready to move onto the next thing before the current has even ended.

          I am not saying that all those that continued to conduct business online Friday and Saturday are heartless and insensitive. And I am not saying that I did not see plenty of GOOD online over the weekend, because goodness I did. But I saw plenty of things that just smacked of ickiness, enough so that it made me pause and question how we, and myself included, are using this medium to engage with each other.

          All I wanted over the weekend was for the companies and the small business owners I engage with online to just sloooow down for a bit. Compose yourself, talk and think your strategy through. So that you as a company can prevent debacles like this from happening, as evidenced by KMart http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-14/kmarts-connecticut-shooting-twitter-fail

          • Liz says:

            Just wanted to say how sorry I am for the loss of your brother. I lost my brother as well (car accident, he was 24) and the Newtown events have stirred up a lot of feelings about that loss for me. Peace to you.

        • Beverly says:

          Jules – thank you for replying and clarifying your post, although you don’t owe me or anyone else an explanation. This is your blog and your right to speak your mind. I do appreciate where you are coming from and honestly, I don’t tweet nor do I look at Twitter, but I can understand everyone’s frustrations. I tend to have a good disconnect button when it comes to social media, which seems to be my saving grace in this particular instance. Continue what you’re doing Jules…..I will continue to follow your blog. Happy Holidays to you and your family. :)

        • Karen says:

          Reading more about the woman’s reaction (the rolling of the eyes, frowny face) makes me go back to 9/11. I was in college and had gone to class after I heard because nobody had cancelled anything yet, etc. A girl sitting at my lab table, and I will never forget this, said, “I wonder what will happen next!?! I think it’s exciting!!” …People have since tried to tell me “She was young…naive…didn’t know what was really happening…” but I will always remember it and want to spit! It amazes me that people can distance themselves from tragedy so easily.

      • I agree with you two. If companies feel compelled to go silent out of respect for those who lost loved ones, that is beautiful. The thing is. I remember after 9/11 feeling uncomfortable whenever I caught myself smiling or being happy about anything. It felt wrong, like if I laugh at all today, it means I don’t care about what happened yesterday . . If it is our genuine heart-state, good. We need to process. But the thing, too, is that not everyone processes through social media.
        I don’t want to share my thoughts about what happened with a few thousand of my closest friends. I didn’t even want to talk about it at work. I was disturbed when I read about it, but I went to work and did my best to go on as normal. My processing was later, private. Maybe those people were just like me.

  8. Phaedra says:

    Amen!

    Friday, after I’d just come from an early morning winter program at my daughter’s school, I’d barely had time to sit down at my desk and start working when the news came about the shooting. All I could think of was all those little faces full of happiness (my own child’s included) at the school.
    I am the member services manager of a small credit union. My desk is open to the lobby. I set the scene here so that I can now share how I cried, no wait, SOBBED, so hard after this horrific news was shared by a coworker. It was not dainty crying. It was a red face, eyes so puffed I couldn’t wear makeup the next day, & snot (TMI- sorry).
    I’m so blessed to work in a place where all of my coworkers & customers were extremely sensitive about how to handle this news (all of us sitting & crying in shock) and made a collective agreement to lessen the stream of news updates so that we could at least finish our work days. At one point though, we did have the conversation that, embarrassing and unattractive as it may have been, people SHOULD feel THAT upset when a tragedy of this degree happens.
    Ate home we also had to unplug from the news & the variety of social media Friday night and throughout Saturday for my sake as well as my daughter’s. We spent some very good quality time hanging out (and me hugging on her as much as she would allow).

    Disconnecting for a week and spending time with the people that you love most is a wonderful idea and I look forward to your return after the holidays!

  9. Jasi says:

    I understand your point of view and I am always impressed with how openly you discuss your views on things. I think it’s very brave. But I also know that people process things differently. You can’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Do they know someone with lots of guns? with a challenged child? was someone a victim of violence in their family? It is important that those touched slow down and think about it, but you have to let people grieve or experience things in their own way. If a lot of people do this online, complain about people who do not participate the way you would those who didn’t respond in the manner you did to the news.. what do you think would happen? Would there be a witch hunt? Would people be branded or outed for how they immediately respond to crisis? I don’t like thinking that we are “supposed” to be a certain way emotionally. We want in our hearts to be compassionate and kind, but we also want freedom to be ourselves. Let no harm, okay?

    • Jules says:

      Thank you, Jasi, but I don’t think I am as brave as I am opinionated. :)

      I don’t want to repost my entire comment to Beverly here, but please do refer to it above. If I am reading your comment correctly, then I think I did a poor job in communicating the main point of this post. I could edit the post after the fact to make it more clear, but that would be disingenuous. It stands how I wrote it this morning, gaffes and all.

      Short story: I agree people process grief in many ways, and my main beef is with the corporations that continued to market as the tragedy unfolded.

      Again–not cutting you off. If you still disagree or feel I haven’t clarified something well, you are welcome to keep commenting.

  10. Courtney says:

    I just wrote a more lengthy response, but my internet connection failed due to a storm, and I’m taking that as a sign. So here is the brief version: All this is the first I’ve heard of anyone acting in a callous or “business as usual” way. Granted, I avoided TV all weekend to spare my kids, but I was online. Everyone in my community, everyone I’ve read, and everyone I’ve been around, is devastated. Friday’s tragedy has been spoken about in every public and private place I’ve been. I don’t know if that makes you feel any better, but I wanted to offer a glimmer of hope.

  11. JanS says:

    Ditto what Jasi and Beverly (above) said.

    This weekend, a friend of mine asked if I cried when I first heard the news and when I said no, he walked away disgusted. Just because it wasn’t my immediate reaction (my first reaction was disbelief and then anger) doesn’t mean that I didn’t shed plenty of tears later.

    • Jules says:

      NO, no, no. You do NOT have to cry to show compassion. I can count on two hands the number of times I have cried in several years. I am not, and will not, ever be a crier. In fact, me crying on Friday was an anomaly that I honestly attributed to being overtired. :)

      Please see my above response to Beverly. This post wasn’t about crying, it was about the decision by major corporations to continue marketing during and shortly after the shootings. If I did not properly and effectively communicate that point in this post (it was written in anger, after all) the onus is on me and I apologize.

  12. Kate says:

    I don’t want to copy and paste my whole blog post in your comments section, so I will leave a link. I think we aren’t having the right conversation.

    [link deleted]

    • Jules says:

      Don’t worry; I’ll just cut and paste it myself.

      Your post in response to my post.

      Stop. Take a breath.

      Blogs, twitter, and Facebook have blown up with people complaining that we haven’t paused enough. And they are right, many of us in the social media/blog post universe haven’t stopped promoting and writing as if its business as usual. I am not going to argue that here.

      Bottom line: it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter that Better Homes and Gardens wanted to show you how to make a burlap tree skirt or that Family Circle was talking about a stress free Christmas. It doesn’t matter that previously scheduled tweets went out during an absurdly insensitive time. Really, it doesn’t.

      What matters to me is that people are killing other people. In schools. Where we send our kids expecting them to be safe.

      What matters is this did not end with the very first school shooting umpteen many years ago (I’m not googling it now). What matters is that we aren’t talking about how to end it completely. What matters is that we figure out how to NEVER EVER EVER have this craziness happen again. And yeah, that conversation is a lot more in depth than the one where we complain about self-promotion, but it’s also a hell of a lot more important.

      Let’s talk about guns. Let’s talk about how we handle and treat mental illness. Let’s talk about how we protect the innocence of our children.

      I’m typing this on my phone. Waiting to pick my daughter up from just another typical day of kindergarten. Life HAS gone on. We cannot undo what happened. We cannot silence it out of existence by burying our head in the sand. We CAN focus on what matters. We CAN stop it from happening. We CAN talk and argue and move to find solutions.

      Let’s focus our energy and our anger on keeping our innocence instead of on just reacting to the loss of it.

      My response

      I care, Kate, because the same people (by people I mean corporations) who refused to pause are the same people who will shape the solutions. If we can’t get major corporations and groups/associations to pull their focus off their bottom line and acknowledge there was a tragedy on an epic scale, do you think we’ll get them to focus on what we can do so that this never happens again or admit that they were part of the problem?

      • Kate says:

        I understand what you and Andrea are saying. I don’t even disagree with the core argument. A society that isn’t completely rocked and broken hearted about what happened is unbelievably confusing to me. I’m still unwilling to turn on the news in any of it’s formats because I just can’t take it in.

        We are just dealing differently. While you are dealing by issuing a call to halt and respect those who have passed, I am dealing with it by asking that we find ways to never have it happen again. Both equally valid in my opinion. Just different.

  13. Monica says:

    Indifference is completely unsettling. I am sorry that you were surrounded by it on Friday. Be well.

  14. Sara says:

    Thank you for posting this. I feel the exact same way but your words are much more eloquent. You are the first person I’ve seen that’s addressed this.

    I feel like this country is looking at what happened in Newtown as if it were a movie, not something that ACTUALLY happened. The indifference is sad and disturbing. People are tweeting and posting about plans to “hug my kids tighter tonight” and ten minutes later bitching about not having all their Christmas presents wrapped.

    I simply don’t understand those who say “we must move on – nothing we do will bring those babies back”. That’s bullshit. We shouldn’t “move on” and behave as if nothing happened. This sort of thing should rock us to our core. I agree that people “process grief in different ways”. However, I also think that if this event isn’t enough to make you truly step back and stop posting about your fabulous new mantle decorations and paper snowflakes (!!!) something is very, very wrong with you. It’s called indifference.

    That said, I do feel there needs to be a conversation about mental health and gun control and ways to prevent this from happening. But not right this minute. Those babies and brave teachers haven’t even been laid to rest yet.

    Thank you for posting what I’ve been feeling but haven’t been brave enough to articulate.

    • Janine says:

      Hey Sara! :)

      I kinda agree/disagree with you. First, though, I will note that Jules was arguing that social media and businesses didn’t handle themselves properly and that it was wrong. Jules has pointed out a very interesting problem, which I put down to a) social media is about community and b) in your own community, who ignores a school shooting? No one. People respond appropriately. Businesses are being stupid with their social media, which makes me quip “must be a day ending with a y”.

      My response below, however, is all about your comment.

      I think your point is that indifference and being phenomenally self-centred (“gonna hug my kids!” followed by “first world problems – wah!”) is on point, although I partially disagree with it.

      Since Jules posted about it, I’ve put some thought into my own reaction to the Newtown murders and I’ve taken a look at how I used social media (as an individual, not a brand or business) this weekend. For me and for many people, it was business as usual online. There was a small amount of discussion regarding Newtown. I am asking myself Why didn’t we all go silent after Newtown?

      I think it’s because of this: respect, and also boundaries. We don’t understand how the parents feel, and would NEVER say that we do, or that we sort of feel like we do. No, that would be wrong. What I see in my online community fits with that: people did not co-opt the pain of the families and the Newtown community into their own sort of anguished cry.

      When someone’s loss is so huge, so crushingly painful, in my community many people are silent. The parents, families and extended families in Newtown will tell the world what THEIR pain is. I don’t speak for all of us, but typically in my community our actions will say “It is our role to be attentive listeners.” We are witnesses to the pain of others, but we do not take on their pain as our own. That would be… disrespectful. The boundary here is that Newtown is grieving, hard. We will not join them, because do not share their burden.

      Why didn’t I cry for the victims of the Newtown murders? I didn’t have a strong impulse to cry for the murder victims, and I questioned myself over that. (And I’m a very realistic person, so the following might seem ugly to Jules’ readers). I think my truth is that I do not know the children, I will not attend their funerals, I do not know their families, there will never be an emptiness in my life because they are no longer alive. As such, I am NOT going to cry. I am not going to break my own heart on this, and I will not LET my heart break over this. My role here is not to cry. Am I moved? Yes. But I’m not gonna dwell on it. It’s not about me.

      If anything, my role here is to suck it up and recognize that there are things I can do right now that contribute to helping. Given how little connection I have with this tragedy, it is NOT my place to rush in and make it *my* tragedy and involve myself in the tragedy. It is, perhaps, my place to think hard and choose an appropriate response.

      I can’t speak for all my friends, most of whom are parents. Maybe many of them cried, but never tweeted or facebooked about it. But I see in my community a strong tide of similar responses. People didn’t co-opt the tragedy and make it their own, but the community created a response that perhaps “we” felt was “appropriate”. People circulated articles about mental health and a particular article written for Gawker by a woman who had put her son into in patient treatment just days before for his mental health problems. People implied that now is not the time to blame the parents, but rather to question why it’s easier and cheaper to buy a gun than see a therapist. People also EXTENSIVELY circulated the names of the victims, and no one used the name of the shooter. No one participated in obsessing over every new media detail about him. That’s a trend that is gaining momentum: people are actively trying to remember victims instead of the names of victimizers. (The names of the 14 women who died in the Montreal Massacre have been recited online for years now as people struggle to control and write history.) People also asked interesting questions such as: if the shooter had been black and had been threatening his family with violence, wouldn’t he be in jail because that’s the way society works? Is the shooter a white victim of white privilege and how do we feel/think about that? What do we think about the fact that institutionalization is so much rarer now, and is it something we want to return to?

      Etcetera.

      If you saw me on the street or were my friend on Facebook, I feel like you would have felt extremely vexed with the fact that I, personally, didn’t speak to the Newtown murders and have a game face on. I don’t look like I’m hurt. Of course, my reality is that I cannot allow myself to feel the way you feel. I would be deeply uncomfortable if I were to voice my hurt with regards to the murders, and if someone asked me if *I* was okay, I would never get over the guilt. If I go forward and say “life will never be the same”, I would be lying. My life is going to be fine, this tragedy has not changed my life. If I went forward and tried to start a mental health or gun control revolution based on the Newtown murders, I would feel like an opportunist.

      So instead, I have stayed the course of normal life. I don’t judge Jules’ or families like her who cried a lot over the children and teachers, and who asked themselves what they would have done if it had been them. There is a role in this world for certain people to BE the person who cries and says “I cried for the children, out of sympathy and empathy and because it COULD BE ME and because there’s nothing I can do”. Those people are important and they fulfil a very important role in any tragedy – they’re the ones who lead by example, who say “I am going to cry because I feel that way, and it’s an honest cry and it comes from an honest place”. Jules reminds me that society still has a soul, when I feel regret that I will not be participating in society’s outward mourning. Someone has to be Jules so that those of us who turn inwards with grief don’t have to worry that society looks like we’ve all become indifferent robots. Jules and people like her will demonstrate the grief that others feels, but do not articulate.

      And in conclusion, I conclude.

  15. I have been offline all day and purposefully turned on the computer to read this post, which I knew Jules would be posting, as we exchanged emails, last evening.
    I certainly do not speak for Jules but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people reading this post {and others I have seen like it} are missing the point completely and underlying theme of it.

    Jules is not saying that people are not allowed to grieve individually and differently. Nowhere in her post does it say that. Even if I didn’t agree with Jules stance on companies handling of this tragedy {I do, however} I wouldn’t infer that she is requiring a certain type of action or inaction from individuals, in order to be considered adequately grieving.

    This truly is about a basic human response to something horrific that should be universal. The sad part is, this response is becoming more and more extinct, in our culture.

    What I think is the real issue is that Jules sentiments {shared by others} even HAS TO BE an issue. The fact that we are having this discussion means that it is more than a few people misunderstanding one another. As a culture and as a society we are severely lacking in our handling of human emotion, which I feel is one of the catalysts to horrific events, in the first place. We have no time to listen to one another. No time to suggest there are problems and take the time to deal with them. No time, no time and therefore no solutions.

    Look around the Twitter/FaceBook/Blogging/Instagramming universe right now. I took 15 minutes today {after being wildly disappointed with the lack of discussion about such a universal and national tragedy, this entire weekend} and was, once again, disheartened by the minimal posts and coverage. It truly grieved me. People are done talking about it and have moved on to Elf on the Shelf posts, posts about food preparations and the like. Is this bad?
    I don’t know.
    I want to say no because so many people I respect don’t have the same convictions as I do, but I’m unsettled by it. Then again, I was unsettled to even have to go to the grocery store this morning, so I suppose we all have to “do” things and live and I in many ways am “moving on”.
    I suppose I wouldn’t be sitting here so unsettled if I would have seen more of a collective and National pause and then a resuming of “normal” life, a day or so later.
    I suppose what is the hardest is that so many people, companies and business’ didn’t pause. At all. So many companies and people said nothing at all.
    And that speaks volumes.
    You can’t tell me that bloggers who pour out their entire life for others to watch and expect respect in return for them being honest shouldn’t be expected to saying something {ANYTHING!} about something like this. And when they don’t, they blame it on their personal “processing”. I call BS on that. And companies not taking a moment to recognize this over Twitter/FB/any form of social media? They talk all the time about how useful these platforms are to revenue so I am very confused when companies act like it was out of their power to take a moment and use these extremely valuable outlets to acknowledge what has happened.
    What are we doing here, then?!

    Of course I know what comment follows up that statement. “Life must go on” and yes it does. And it will and it has but that statement has nothing to do with the fact that there is a difference between dealing with things “differently” and the dead-behind-the-eyes indifference we are creating as a culture by not engaging on personal and heartfelt levels, with others. I do believe much of this is perpetuated by the emergence of the online world {the obvious irony isn’t lost on me} but we are a desensitized nation. We are a “move on fast” nation. We don’t have time for anything, we are busy all the time and we hate inconvenience. Because of this, we have not learned to sit still and take in feelings, conversations and real time information from something other than a handheld device.

    I really do think that we all have process differently and there isn’t manual or rule book. However, I believe our country is so fast moving and unattached from one another that we struggle with feelings and emotions, in general.

    If we, as online identities, can talk about everything else but struggle to squeak out a simple statement about something to this magnitude, it’s a joke.

  16. Shaina says:

    I want to open by saying I’ve been trying very hard not to take it personally when I come across posts like these. You are not the only one. Some are one-liners and some are more verbose. They all surmise the same (at least my perception): People who don’t express their grief for as long or as openly or as deeply as I do must not care as much (or at all).

    I gather that most of your anger is directed toward self-promotion links and ads but at the root, those posts are coming from people who are living their days “as if nothing happened”.

    I don’t have anything to promote so I wasn’t one that was self-promoting. Still, it hurt my feelings to read these things from so many people because I am one of those that decided to go on with life and living. Joyously, even. Here is my story.

    I was sitting in my cubicle getting materials gathered and edited for a training I would be providing the next week. My coworker saw the CNN Breaking News update in her email and told us about what had happened – which at the time wasn’t much news except that a shooting had occurred in a Connecticut school. I scrunched my face and thought “Again? *sigh*”. I was saddened but I didn’t allow myself time to absorb anything and just went back to working.

    A few hours later she updated us that they had confirmed fatalities and children were among those confirmed dead. Again, my reaction wasn’t that of horror or inconsolable sadness. Was it horrible that it happened? Definitely. There was no doubt about that. My actual outward response that anyone would have seen would have most likely come off as indifference. My eyebrows raised and my eyes turned sad. I wasn’t intentionally blocking out the processing of such news, but I just wasn’t processing it. I heard it. I recognized the horribleness of it. And I continued on to finish my work.

    When I got home that evening, Sweetie had the televised news on. There was no barrier to keep me from hearing the events of the day narrated in hushed and mournful tones while watching video clips and images of the surviving children being squeezed by their crying mothers. I listened and watched in horror as a teacher explained how she hid all of her children in a tiny bathroom and told them how much they were loved because she believed it would be the last thing they heard. The television made it real. I am not “screen desensitized”. If anything, I am overly screen sensitized. I rarely watch the televised news. I haven’t for years. After events like this however, it’s impossible to avoid since I don’t live alone. Televised media over sensationalizes everything they report on. The Connecticut shooting, for example, had its own title screen and fanfare intro music by the time I got home from work that evening. As the tears ran down my cheeks I thought, “This is horrible. I shouldn’t be seeing this. It’s not mine to witness.” And I got up and went to the bedroom to read.

    That’s me though. That’s my response and it doesn’t mean I am any less caring than the women sobbing in public. I felt the feelings, I validated those feelings, and I recognized that this was not my tragedy to continue mourning. I can’t imagine what the families that do own this tragedy are going through. I can’t and I won’t because that’s not fair to them. This is their mourning. If it were someone I knew, I have a clear reference of how I would (and have) reacted. I would grieve until I could speak to some imagined person without crying. I want to be emotionally strong for them. Then I would support them as best as I knew how – and as much as they would allow. I would take days of vacation time and just sit and hold them if that’s what they wanted. I would make week’s worth of casseroles knowing they’d sit untouched in the fridge because no one wants to eat. And if they wanted to escape the horrors that were real in their life, I would take them to one of many establishments that were open to entertain and be ever so grateful that these places didn’t shut down whenever a tragic and emotional event took place because my friend needed ever so much to escape at that moment. Or I would open up our favorite website and laugh at the latest dumb thing some blogger did or oogle interior design and fantasize how the kitchen could look if we had a thousand dollars. There would be many crash and burn episodes sprinkled throughout because that’s how grieving works. The thing is, this was not someone I knew. Not even remotely. It is not my family or friend to support and therefore the best use of my life is to continue living. I still have my life and my family. My nephew did not have to hear gunshots in his school and my sister didn’t get murdered in her classroom while protecting her students. I will not waste a single moment of the life I still have with those I love by mourning that which isn’t mine to mourn.

    So many other things have happened in the world to be joyous about, yet the nation seems to prefer to focus on something to mourn. We could focus on tragedy every single hour of every single day. Tragic events happen all around us every day. Should they get the same attention that mass shootings receive? A life lost at the hands of violence is tragic – whether it happens en masse or individually.

    There are all types of people in this world. Diversity is what makes the human race such beautiful creatures! We are not all the same and do not all think, feel, or act the same. This is a wonderful thing! Our world needs all kinds. You appear to me as a person who feels very strongly and emotes very openly. I love that about you. I have people in my life like this and they are my cornerstones during trialing times. Please understand that not everyone is and that is okay.

    • Jules says:

      People who don’t express their grief for as long or as openly or as deeply as I do must not care as much (or at all).

      That is not what I am saying, and I apologize if I have written the post in a way that results in that message.

      • Shaina says:

        I can’t say if you wrote it that way or if I just took it that way. I tend to personalize a lot of generalized statements so it’s very likely just me. Good to know though (as you’ll see in my comment below). I was a bit worried that this was going to make me seem all robot to you, heh.

        • Jules says:

          No one with that awesome Christmas card can be a robot. If people saw me during stressful times, they’d think I was a robot, too. I’m not much of a crier, truly.

          • Shaina says:

            I totally bawl about insignificant things like fights with Sweetie or Bestie, or when I get passed over on a job, or when a coworker is openly frustrated by something I did. My grandma dies and I’m dry as a drought. Then Sweetie’s grandpa dies and I’m a river. It’s a freaking mystery to me.

          • Jules says:

            I’m the same way. There’s no real rhyme or reason, but even when I look like I don’t care, I do. I think sometimes I care so much that I fry my circuits and nothing comes out.

            But I still don’t want to hear about KMART’s Fab15 toy special.

    • Shaina says:

      Aaaand a refresh shows all the replies that came as I was composing. I just finished reading all the above, Jules, that this was not an individualized matter. I do feel better about that at least.
      I still stand in the opinion that the world should continue on as normal though. The people who need to grieve should grieve but those who don’t feel they need that grieving time shouldn’t be forced to a halt along with the others.
      I mean really, when I’m grieving I’m not perusing Twitter or Facebook anyway. And usually, when I’m done grieving and get back online – it’s one of those two places that sends me backward to grieve all over again.

      The indifference from the salon that you explained more fully in the comments (eye rolling? really? wow.) was atrocious. I mean, I generally feel like a robot with my half-frown and sad eyes. I couldn’t imagine rolling my eyes about someone crying. That’s harsh.

      • Jules says:

        Hah! It’s all good. I knew when I wrote the post this morning that I would screw things up here and there. :)

        I completely agree with you that we must move on and try to be joyous–it’s just not in my personality to do it right away. In fact, it’s the whole reason why I started the weekly Happy, Happy posts. I need to physically remove myself from the inside of my brain. I’m always in there, thinking, thinking, thinking. I take things way too personally? Seriously? I don’t know. I feel too much, I guess.

        p.s. Yeah, that girl was a total bitch and made me feel stupid and crazy.

        • Janine says:

          PS. That girl in the salon is a douchecanoe. (Official Bloggess term.) I cannot believe she rolled her eyes, she is a TOTAL jerk.

  17. car54 says:

    I have always felt this way. I work in retail and it is a crazy time of year–and the only comment I have seen from work about this is that our Connecticut stores (near Newtown) had a rough weekend–sales were flat.

    For me it is a fine line. I get pretty obsessed when things like this happen–they impact me a lot and I am always wanting to understand WHY things like this happen in our world–but I find a lot of other people in my life kind either absorb the news and go on or they somehow personalize it–and it becomes their tragedy.

    I have really not done much but watch the news since Friday to the point where it was really weighing me down….I’ve had to take a break today.

    I have seen a lot of the blogs I read post about what happened and take a break from their regular postings, but a lot did not–and I guess that has to be ok. I am trying very hard not to judge them and assume they were not impacted. Maybe they just handle the news in some different way.

    I’m glad you posted this–I have felt this way often in past situations like this. And a break does help.

  18. Alex says:

    I unplugged after some time spent on twitter after first learning about the shooting. There were emails I’d written earlier that morning, ones that I sent as I left the house as I was trying to process what I’d just learned. I later wished I had turned off all social media tools as my head was a bit in the clouds.
    I tweeted a lot in that hour or so. The inauthenticity of aspects of SM were abundantly clear as the auto tweets went by. I tried not to judge, but I judged. I said I did not want to see posts about the tragedy promoted, and as I do, I find myself judging still. So be it.

    I thank you for writing what you wrote.

  19. Amy Bounds says:

    Thank you for expressing how you felt about this horrific event. I am having such a hard time processing this violence against our children. We had a rough week in our Oregon/Wa area that the shooting in Ct hit even harder. I only feel safe and comfortable when all my children are home and the doors are locked.

  20. I agree with you about the promotional posts/tweets on Friday, especially as the tragedy and the details about it were still unfolding. I also agree that many of these were probably automated, and unintentional, but still poor timing. It should be a lesson to anyone who represents a company, brand, organization, etc. in social media. You can’t set it and forget it and this is one horrid example of why.

    At the same time, I’m really unsure about every business/organization feeling the need to comment on the tragedy. That also leaves a bad taste in my mouth and feels disingenuous. Kind of like when my dentist sends me a pre-printed Christmas card — when you care enough to mail merge… If you are based in CT or have some connection to the tragedy, then commenting my be appropriate. But I don’t think that every small business/blog/person needs to share their individual feelings on the matter in a public forum. Sometimes silence is best. The fact that our thoughts are with those poor families and that entire community goes without saying to me. And if you do say that and nothing else, it doesn’t seem sincere to me, it seems more like you’re concerned with getting some attention for your brand, or making a good impression, rather than putting the victims first.

    • Jules says:

      I agree. I like the way Disney and Nordstrom handled it. They gave their sympathies and then shut down their social media. Not their entire corporation, not their lives, just the social media they use increase sales engage with customers.

  21. Jasi says:

    I think I understand now that your main gripe was not so much the first part of the story- the women in the salon going on about business- but the ads and major corporations not taking pause for this tragedy. It is devastating but it is not global. A lot of people are not as effected as East Coast parents might be. There is so much unbelievable horror in the world, where do you draw the line, right? And yeah, you are brave for speaking openly online. It’s awesome. A lot of bloggers these days get more flack than they deserve. I hope you don’t see this as a criticism but rather a discussion. I respect your opinion.

    • Jules says:

      I don’t take a difference of opinion as a criticism. Differences are what make the world go round, and I often learn more from people who disagree with me than from those who don’t. I respect your opinion, too, and I appreciate that you took the time to respectfully offer a different opinion.

  22. Centsational Girl says:

    Oh Jules, I so feel your pain and anger. This recent travesty rocked me to the core and I found the self absorbed automated tweeting to be unbelievably shallow too. Likely unintentional, but still.
    It takes strength and grace to stop what you’re doing and acknowledge the pain and sorrow. For people and for brands. We are all human and when something so unbearable like the Newtown shooting occurs, something really should be said. Or silence observed. Something.
    My husband and I discuss often and marvel at the indifference that you quote. Tis true, we’ve noticed that people in general seem to care more about themselves and less about others in our culture. For so many, self satisfaction and instant personal gratification outweigh compassion. Yet I still believe in the goodness of humankind and that Good Samaritans exist everywhere.
    Everyone and every brand deals with tragedy differently. Nevertheless, like you I do take note of those who acknowledge it or at a minimum recognize it with a day of silence instead of self promotion.

    Merry Christmas friend.
    Kate

  23. Kara says:

    Trust me.. there was no nervous laughing on Friday :-/

    I work at a school, though not elementary, a school still and when we heard the news we all were thwarted into the endless emotions and tears spilled freely. When you work in education, this is a real mind*&^%. This could have happened at any school, no one was left unaffected yet we had to return to “business as usual”, though barely anyone spoke a word.

    Friday’s are 1/2 days, and I had errands. On my way to Target, I listened to NPR who had a teacher from Sandy Hook – I was upset that she was on the air talking about the event and then tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, walk in her shoes for a minute and was angry. I am sorry, not angry – really angry, Irish angry. You know, you have seen it before. I snapped at the Target cashier who was annoyingly chipper. As I walked to my car, I was thinking about the teacher could not decide if I was upset at the teacher talking about the details through tears and a cracked voice or the news reporter who kept asking questions, apologizing for continuing to ask questions and then pre-empting every question with ” You may not know/or be ready to talk about this”

    Then I pulled into Winco (don’t ask) and the flag was lowered at half mast and I stood there and tears. Just tears. Poured. An older man walked by and hugged me. A total stranger. I mumbled the words thank you. It wasn’t a creepy man hugging me, it was someone’s grandpa and I imagined my own grandpa doing that. My papa would totally do that.

    I share that with you because I wish you were in the parking lot of winco with me instead of the salon.

  24. Anita says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m angry too. I’m also very sad and I can’t understand why everyone else isn’t.

  25. I had both responses. When I heard the earliest reports–just that there was a gunman in a school–I had the “not again” feeling and went to a planned meeting. During the meeting, a teacher came in, visibly shaken. We got the details that had emerged (children and teachers dead). She left and we went on with our meeting. It was not indifference. It was feeling completely powerless, I think. And, school was going on all around us. It has to.

    I cannot work in a school and actively think about what could happen, and yet, I know it could happen, at any time. I feel powerless to do anything about it. After the meeting, I went alone to my office in the school library and then spent the rest of the day trying not to fall apart. Trying not to think of the school massacre that took place in the library. Trying not to think of the one that took place just down the highway. Trying not to think of the shooting just days earlier in the mall where I’ve shopped with my children.

    I went online while trying to choke down some lunch, and like you, felt outrage at all the crap about holiday decorations and such. I tossed out a post because I had to write about it, had to use the only tool I ever have to deal with tragedy (personal or otherwise). I got angry on FB, and then on Saturday wrote another post, about coping. (Maybe it wasn’t obviously about that, but it was for me.) Then I decided I needed to just stay quiet until I could get myself under some control. Not really there yet.

    I will say that I deleted some blogs from my RSS feeder. Some others from my FB like list. Don’t think I will be going back. Thinking hard about why and how we blog. Was doing that anyway, but doing it harder now. I believe this event will be a turning point for many things.

    As always, I appreciate you saying it like it is.

  26. Fleur Deschamps says:

    This is how I felt while innocent people, women, children and babies were bombed daily by the hundreds or thousands, daily, in Serbia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Gaza, in too many parts of the world – and the news kept feeding us with pictures of maimed children, tiny corpses, weeping parents and grandparents. But whenever this happens, no one seems to really care… Indifference is horrible, like you said. Most people seem totally oblivious or indifferen,t going on with their shopping, about their business, as if nothing was happening. Just because it isn’t happening on their territory, or in their neighborhood. Whenever there are bombings somewhere, I think of all those innocent children who would wake up the next day, but would not live through the day, or would find out their loved ones have been killed by ‘smart weapons’ a few hours later. Too many people seem indifferent, as if all the atrocities are happening only in a movie. I know how you feel… When innocent human beings, especially chilren, are hurt by other humans, it is heart breaking, it hurts so much. We are all supposed to protect the children, to keep them safe, wherever they are. But we fail so often, and our societies fail too. It makes me feel so angry, as a human, as a mum, as a teacher. Indifference hurts, and it kills.

    Please do not forget the Native American children and babies who were slaughtered in terrible massacres that took the lives of hundreds of innocents, such as the Sand Creek Massacre, the Washita Massacre, Wounded Knee massacre and others. These children are part of US history. They should not be forgotten.

    All children are sacred, unique and precious…

    Entire populations are being brainwashed into believing that material possessions are more important than everything else. Most people have become so self-centered, they don’t want to leave their comfort zone when tragedy strikes, especially tragedies that could have been avoided. They don’t want you to rain on their parade, they have become immune to compassion and violence (until it knocks on their door). Politicians, war corporations, television and video games have done so much damage.

    And now… innocent little children have been killed again, in a school, together with the adults who tried to protect them. Their loved ones are left devastated, in a world more and more dehumanized. And it is everyone’s duty to speak out, like you did, Jules, for the sake of the rest of our children, and what is left of humanity.

  27. kristen says:

    I agree with everything you and Andrea have said. Everything. I love you both and your awesome blogs. But maybe it’s time for you to let this fight go and concentrate your energies on sending positive vibes, thoughts, prayers, out into the blogosphere – and to Newtown. Everyone grieves and processes differently and it’s just not our place to judge you, me or anyone.

    • Andrea Howe says:

      Hi Kristen. Thank you for your comments. Jules and I agree that we both need to move on now, and while I can’t speak directly for Jules, I will tell you that I am so glad I said what was on my heart, whether people thought I was being judgmental or not. You mention positivity, and I couldn’t agree more. I have compiled a list of ways to help the victims and people affected by the tragedy on my site, and continue to update my For the Love Of Facebook page with more ways to help as I find them.

    • Jules says:

      This post was my way of letting this fight go. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I can’t tell you how much better I feel for having spoken my mind, even when I knew I would be in the minority. I have let go of my anger, but I have only strengthened my commitment to live a life that aligns with my values.

    • I have to somewhat disagree with the assertion that it isn’t our place to judge.
      Within the past few years, my ears have really begun to perk up when I hear the phrase, “It’s not my place to judge” or “I’m not going to judge you for your lifestyle” or “Don’t judge”.
      In actuality, I personally believe that these quick and stilted statements are falsely made and really are used as a defense mechanism for people {not necessarily you, Kristen-this is just something I have personally been thinking about ;)). It, once again, allows people to stand down emotionally and not engage. Not evaluate their own beliefs or learn why they believe what they believe and the possible error of their ways or of others. To move forward.

      By its very definition, judging is simply forming an opinion based on evidence.

      Every single day we judge things and we SHOULD judge things. As parents we judge and evaluate schools and school systems for our children. We dissect and make judgements about who we engage with or if someone is fit to go into business with. We make judgement calls on religious values and tradition within our home and family. We judge what the options are to feed our kids and our-self. We judge who our child will play with or who we confide in, as a life long friend.
      Life is full of judgment calls and that is necessary, so I believe that what most people mean , when they say, “Not for me to judge” is that they don’t want to do the dirty work of calling people out when something isn’t passing the litmus test. That’s always the hard line to walk.

      Of course I feel that with judgment comes responsibility and never the right to a judgmental and haughty spirit, but {and I’m sure some may not sit well with a religious slant, but I’m going there because I feel compelled} while the Bible calls us to not judge {Matthew 7:1-29}, I believe that means to not judge without being aware that the same amount of judgement will come back on you for the exact same thing so you better make sure you are living up to snuff. Further defended in Proverbs 31:9. We are called {as Christians} to open our mouths and judge righteously and defend the needs of the poor and weak.

      I firmly believe that many problems in our society have been perpetuated because people think, “It’s not mine to judge”. By taking a stand back approach, we allow. So many things in this land have become permissible because people don’t want to stand forward, state what is wrong and take the flack.
      I think that there really are some judgement calls that SHOULD be made on how we deal with a tragedy like this. How else do we learn? How else will they as companies learn to do better? How will be better as a society if we continue to allow small choice after small choice to chip away at our efforts to be better people? More compassionate people? People that look more like our Creator {sorry again for the religious reference, but it’s the viewpoint with which I TRY to shape my opinions, although I fail miserably and often}

      Looking at things in crystal cut black and white scares people but what should really scare people {in my opinion} is the muddled shade of grey we are headed towards-where everything is permissible as long as “they” think it is.

  28. Melissa says:

    Thank you. I totally agree. I’ve been too stunned to put my thoughts into words, but you did it for me.

  29. I have to admit that I didn’t acknowledge the tragedy online and I’m comfortable with that. I stepped back from the internet on Friday and took a partial day to go see D’s brother’s Christmas choir performance. There were tears in the auditorium when the choir director asked for a moment of silence. It was bittersweet, celebrating all these children and knowing that elsewhere people were grieving their own. I was glad to be with people that day, connected.

    I chose not to say anything online because I couldn’t come up with an entire post that contributed to the conversation and a one line acknowledgement tacked onto a post felt like I would be trivializing it. I don’t know if that is the right decision, but it feels most genuine for me. I’m back to posting as usual today and I’m sure it offends some people (not saying I’m assuming that you’re offended, Jules!) but I can’t bring myself to drum up words in order to placate others. For me, blogging is always a slice of life and not the entire picture. I appreciate the people who have written thoughtful pieces on the subject, but I don’t fault those who found they didn’t have words.

  30. Susan says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jules. They are relevant and valid.

    On Friday, our nursery school’s director advised us not to have children exposed to any media covering the tragedy. So we tuned out completely. All weekend. To be fair, it’s not a difficult thing for us to do as we don’t blog or tweet (or text, we’re happy Luddites). But, we’re not completely archaic and do have a computer, radio and TV, all of which we kept off. Instead we played Christmas songs. It was lovely, and great way to shield the wee one from horrors she doesn’t need to know about.

    Also, I can’t thank you enough for recommending the Simplicity Parenting book. It, and the books referred to in it, have made a world of difference this holiday season in terms of considering the roles of gifts/toys, technology,etc. Thank you for opening the door of living simply to me.

    May you have a wonderful Christmas. Keep your spirit up.

  31. Martha K. says:

    You do not need to defend yourself. The people who went about their life as nothing ever happened to 20 little 1st graders need to explain themselves. I cannot even begin to imagine the grief and pain the families are going through. My heart breaks (and I cry) with every story of every sweet person who lost their lives on Friday.

    You have done NOTHING wrong. You are caring. The world should more people like you!!!

    Go give your kids more hugs than normal, which is what I am doing.

  32. Lindsay says:

    Our society has engendered a deep-rooted sense of apathy in people. It disgusts me and it breaks my heart. I spent all weekend obsessively reading everything I came across about those sweet, beautiful people whose lives were cut short by tragedy. Like you, I felt a sense of outrage at the people continuing on with life as usual, as though we haven’t all been irrevocably changed by what happened.

    Thank you for your perspective and your warm, empathetic heart. The world needs all of us who care to continue caring HARD, especially for the people who don’t seem to care at all.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  33. I understand what people are commenting about, that not everyone reacts to grief or shock in the same way. I wrote a post and mentioned being angry at friends who were happily going about their days, which isn’t fair, but it’s how I felt in the moment.

    My daughter was school friends several years ago with one of the children killed. That, plus the kids being the same age as my own child, made it incredibly real to me, devastatingly real. It’s been a very horrible week. I have no idea how to get back to regular posting. Maybe your idea of a break is a wise one for me, too.

  34. Cara says:

    Jules-your passion and feeling and the opposite of indifference is very moving. I can see why you were flabbergasted and disgusted at the “normalcy” with which everyone went on while parents were finding out their babies were never coming home b/c some madman killed them.
    I don’t think your Christmas cards are probably in bad taste, just the timing stinks on that. Your heart would NEVER ever EVER think that way. ((HUGS)) You are obviously a very caring empathetic person (or is it sympathetic? never can remember.) and I think it’s REFRESHING.
    I’ve been disgusted by the amount of pro/anti gun political statements in recent days. Can we get the funerals done before we use these lives lost as fodder for a political battle!? OHMYGOSH. These are not statistics to help your cause. These are real live people who died during Advent! Right before Christmas/Hanukkah! A moment of silence PLEASE. :( Hang in there and I respect you immensely for your stance here.

  35. Fleur Deschamps says:

    I didn’t know that to “process” such a tragedy, one needed more than seconds or minutes…

    I didn’t know that work was more important than life…

    It is heart-breaking to see people turned into cold robots, or look away just because a tragedy doesn’t fit into the perfect life they want to have. It’s not about tears. It’s not about displays of grief, as we all have our own way of exteriorizing or hiding our sorrow… it’s about compassion, solidarity,
    tact and kindness. Just a single sentence, a simple gesture, to show that we understand and we are deeply touched by what has happened. Such a tragedy is not only individual for each victim and their loved ones, it is is also a collective tragedy. And sadly we know it is probably not the last one, there will be others… One of the reasons it will happen is Indifference. Indifference to the wrong use of mental health medication on children and adults, indifference to the overdose of violence on TV and in video games, indifference to the war-mongering governments and weapons corporations, indifference to how guns end up being used (to kill instead of protect), and the list goes on. It is so long that we wonder if any of it can be fixed, so we decide it’s easier to focus instead on our latest hairdo or what color baskets we are going to use in our pantry!

    Thank you, Jules, for having the courage to speak your mind and trying to reclaim a bit of humanity for our society. Thank you also for your personal message. And it is I who thank you :)

    I hope you will forgive me for posting here an article that just happened to get into my mailbox. It may not be the place to post it but the title of your post is “the Opposite of Life” so the article does not seem unrelated. I’m sharing it for its humane content, not in a political way

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33367.htm
    It’s title is What If Children Mattered No Matter Where They Lived–and Died?

    With warmest wishes to everyone for the holidays, may they be filled with love and peace.

  36. Sandy says:

    Jules, your response is spot on. I can only add: Amen.

  37. Bari says:

    Your post echoes a lot of how I felt the past weekend. I am not huge into social media, just FB and Instagram, so I didn’t have some of the same media experience that you did, and for the protection of my kids the only tv was Disney – no news, no information that would force we to explain the unexplainable to my kids (9 and 4) before I could find the correct balance for myself of information and grace in the wake of the tragic event.
    One thought that kept return to over and over in my mind was “There for the Grace of God, go I.” My husband remarked how much this event affected me. My grief was almost stronger then 9/11/01. With the 9/11 terror attack, it was more about me. But Sandy Hook was children, innocent, wonderful, precious children. Like my two, like your two. It’s so so difficult to comprehend such a loss. There for the Grace of God go I. May we never have to experience what the families in CT. are going through.

    I would like to share a blog post by the author of a book I love called “Daring Greatly” -Dr. Brene’ Brown, it gave me hope and a way to get back to a joyful mindset for the Holidays
    http://www.ordinarycourage.com/my-blog/2012/12/18/wishing-you-love-and-light.html

  38. Jana says:

    This is what my dad would call holding our feet to the fire. The problem these days is that people are so unwilling to call out bad behavior…and this is bad. Have we become so indifferent that we cannot stop the mindless consumerism and be quiet within ourselves… put ourselves there, at a firehouse, your child not arriving. It was and is so heartbreaking for me… my husband and I cried together and then talked about how grateful and unbelievably thankful we were that our kids were still ours, to hold and snuggle for another day …we are so devastated for those parents and the community. I am so glad you wrote this post. If it makes others who agree brave enough to publicly say so, perhaps we can turn the tide of indifference.

  39. Janae says:

    Amen! My thoughts exactly! Thank you for saying exactly what I have been thinking sister!!!

  40. seleta says:

    Could not agree more.

  41. Liz says:

    Thanks for this post. I agree wholeheartedly.

    Though I’ve been able to pull it together in recent days and even managed to have a lovely Christmas with my family (and perhaps it was especially lovely because I was so mindful of holding them close), this event has stunned me to the point where I almost couldn’t function for a few days. The morning of the shootings, I saw the news and could not stop crying. It was the first time I’ve ever cried at work. This might be particularly notable considering I am a family law attorney and the very morning of the shootings, I was litigating a domestic violence/child abuse trial without even breaking a sweat. I think I am able to hold that stuff at arms’ length because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do anything to help… but as for the Newtown shootings, I felt helpless, and so I fell apart.

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Just wanted to thank you for sharing this and for writing such a thoughtful blog.

  42. Marissa Hopkins says:

    Well, I have no idea if you’ll read this. I would just like to go on record to say that your Christmas card was beautiful and in the same down-to-earth, funny manner as all of your cards and it went on my refridgerator in a place of honor. You need to remember that the people who love you (which is to know you) understood that you took that fun family photo before the world fell apart in Newtown. We all know you would never be so insensitive as to send a gun toting family pic in a mocking manner.

    As for the rest of your blog, I too felt a sting of guilt at being able to hug and kiss my boys and tell them how much I loved them. It’s hard to understand why this happened, but if there’s to be any silver lining to this tragedy, it is the reminder to thank God for every day that we have with our children. Now, speaking of the people that you love, when are you and your men going to come and go sledding in the mountains???

Leave A Comment

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.