It was challenging to be on social media yesterday with the early news of the massacre in Las Vegas and the late-day bulletins about the failing health and then death of musician Tom Petty.

Through Facebook and on Twitter, people have been in real and virtual mourning for strangers they’ve never met as well as a southern rocker who provided the soundtrack for their adolescence.

Technology is supposed to bring us together but it can also magnify despair. We are bummed out – so we let the world know we’re bummed out. It leads to some sad trips to the iPhone.

These posts obviously need to happen. Part of the way to process sad news is to air it out. In a different era, maybe you’d talk about it with a friend. Now you share it with 1,000 people who you sort of know.

But it was heartening to see one person acknowledge the tough day and then post a photo of hundreds of painted rocks that his son and his classmates had decorated at school. The stream of color was bright and gaudy and meaningless and sweet. More than Twitter, Facebook has been a receptacle of the quotidian. People post endless photos of their kids, their meals, and their trips out of town – sometimes sparking exhausted groans from their virtual friends.

Not me. I love them. It’s a reminder that life continues in all of its boring glory despite famous people dying and tragedies like Las Vegas.

We should mourn and motivate around such troubling news – but we also need to move on and to “keep passing the open windows” in the words of author John Irving.

In the meantime, vent your outrage and your sorrow – but please keep showing me another photo of your kid or that ridiculous burger that you just ordered.


Bob Hardt