Can we just stop using the term ‘new normal’, please?
For me, it’s come down to wanting to do a face-palm every time I hear that term….especially vis a vis mass shooting incidents.
What does ‘new normal’ mean anyway?
According to Oxford Dictionaries, ‘new normal’ is defined as a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual, or expected.
If that is an accurate definition, then how long does it take for that ‘new normal’ following mass shootings to not be ‘new’ any longer….or ‘normal’ for that matter?
But I digress….earlier than usual methinks.
Mass shootings are not ‘new’. In fact, Mass Shootings in America: A Historical Review shows at least two took place as early as the 1910’s.
FBI statistical data of active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2017 in the United States speak for themselves.
The FBI chart depicting incidents per year shows some ups and downs. 2017 has the highest with 30 incidents as compared to the previous high of 26 in the year 2010.
However, the year 2017 on the FBI casualties per year chart is particularly notable with over 500 more casualties than any previous year. Is that ‘normal’?
I believe using ‘new normal’ to describe the aftermath of mass shootings can actually be disrespectful.
For each new massacre, the one prior tends to get ‘eclipsed’ by the newest one. The farther back a mass shooting occurs, the more it tends to get overshadowed. It happens all the time. It isn’t necessarily intended, but it happens.
Then, with the next mass shooting, the term ‘new normal’ comes into play once again.
Whether deliberate or not, ‘new normal’ puts a more ‘palatable’ tone on gun violence. It arguably helps make it less unpleasant for folks struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible.
Don’t believe me?
Look at these OpEds on ‘new normal’:
“I hate to admit it, but it’s tempting to accept that this is just the way things are going to be in this country from now on.”
“The Florida shooting too shall pass, as did Columbine, Sandy Hook, Santa Monica College and so on — all allowed to fade into the backdrop of American memory without a thing being done.”
Then I found this OpEd:
“Instead, what is normal and all too common is the instantaneous, 24/7 media coverage of these tragedies, especially on television.”
That…that right there represents what I’ve been trying to say all along.
A school shooting is not ‘normal’. Neither is a mass shooting of any kind.
A school shooting never has been ‘normal’. Neither has a mass shooting of any kind.
A school shooting will never be ‘normal’. A mass shooting of any kind will never be ‘normal’ either…period and end of discussion.
So, why am I even talking about this?
Because when a mass shooting happens in someone else’s backyard, society’s reaction tends to take a ‘heads in the sand’ mentality regarding the uncomfortable experiences of ‘those’ people.
Sure, there’s sympathy for them. Some folks reach out to them. Some folks even go so far as to try and help them on their healing journey somehow.
But when push comes to shove to try and do something about heading off future mass shootings and addressing the gun violence epidemic we’re experiencing as a nation, that ‘heads in the sand’ mentality takes over for much of society.
Some folks with no actual skin in the game, so to speak, even condemn mass shooting and gun violence survivors and/or their relatives and friends for speaking out – for advocating change.
It happens all the time:
David Hogg (Parkland survivor)
Emma Gonzalez (Parkland survivor)
Fred Guttenberg (Parkland parent)
Francine Wheeler (Sandy Hook parent)
Colin Goddard (Virginia Tech)
Tom Mauser (Columbine parent)
Even Gabby Giffords:
They’ve all been subjected to the wrath of folks who disagree with their advocacy.
I’ve felt that kind of wrath on a much smaller scale, as well.
It pierces me deep inside when someone tells me to ‘shut up’…that my personal experiences don’t ‘entitle’ me to have an advocacy voice.
And then there’s another mass shooting with a whole new set of potential advocates being cast into an unwelcome and unwanted fraternity of gun violence and mass shooting survivors.
This happens every single time, especially following mass shootings.
It’s a never ending cycle…at least it seems that way to those who’ve gone before.
Is any of this ‘new’?
Is any of this really truly ‘normal’?
Should any of this be a ‘new normal’ over and over and over again?
Asking for a whole bunch of gun violence and mass shooting survivor friends….
My two cents.
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