Social media being abused after Parkland shooting

Amy McNeel

It’s been over a week since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. This tragedy, which killed 17 people, has left me, and so many others, heartbroken. However, while we sit back and wonder what has gone wrong in the U.S. and why these situations keep occurring, not only are we devastated and thirsty for change, but we are also divided. Instead of uniting and supporting one another and those affected by the event, many people are voicing selfish opinions and creating useless arguments; people are using social media in improper ways that belittle the situation at hand. 

In the days since the shooting, I have noticed an extreme level of improper use of social media. While scrolling through Facebook, I see people share articles about why they take pride in owning guns. I see posts about why firearms aren’t the problem and comments bashing people who support gun control. I have seen posts about how prideful people are of the Second Amendment. On a video of a man respectfully giving his AR-15 to the police, I saw comment after comment defending the weapon. One man commented, “I like guns and I’m proud of it.” With social media, some people feel a constant need to project their opinions, no matter the severity of the situation. 

What people don’t understand is that every time they post something like this, they are belittling the tragedy. When you post about your “love” of guns, you are making the situation about you and your beliefs. When you comment hateful things, you are taking the attention away from what really matters and projecting it onto yourself. And you know what? It is not about you. In fact, right now your opinion doesn’t matter. Who is wrong or right doesn’t matter. Whether guns or mental health is to blame doesn’t matter. What matters is that people died, family members lost their loved ones and children are now living with post-traumatic stress disorder. What matters is that these events keep happening and that any school, child or person could be next. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that you have a right to your opinion; I am an opinion columnist, after all. What I am saying is that right now, your keyboard-warrior opinions aren’t warranted. Taking attention away from the people affected is selfish and disrespectful. When victims read these articles, comments and posts, how do you think they feel? Instead of defending your beliefs and bashing those who disagree with you, maybe you should write something hopeful, reassuring and compassionate. 

While I am an opinion columnist, I would never go onto social media after a tragedy and defend one of the components of the tragedy, whether I believed that guns were to blame or not. I am so tired of seeing so many angry, closed-minded comments. After a tragedy, we should use social media to support one another. The Douglas shooting is not about you or your love of firearms. It is about the people who were killed and the kids who will never be able to escape the sounds of screams and gunshots in their minds.