I learned about the 9/11 terror attacks on my way to my job as a full-time journalist. I wondered why I was stuck in traffic during my typically smooth commute to the newsroom. I heard it on the radio.
When I got to work, I wrote a story about a library.
I don’t remember which Oklahoma town the library was in or what the story was about—grant, fundraising, renovation, expansion—it makes no difference.
What I remember feeling was useless. In the immediate aftermath of an event that changed America, I was on deadline and writing about a library. Who cares?
I had plenty of opportunities later to write about the attacks. Unfortunately, we all did as we explored Oklahoma angles to the story.
I got more from writing about the library.
We all need a little sense of normalcy in times of trauma. We cannot wallow in the hate, anger, sadness, and despair.
My memory of writing about that library is the reason I don’t stop my regularly scheduled tweets when a tragedy occurs.
I have been criticized in the past for not pausing my scheduled tweets when a traumatic event occurs. I’ll take the criticism.
I’m not insensitive to others’ suffering. Rather, I chose to tweet regularly to create a sense of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal time.
To put it in more hopeless terms, when is there not a tragedy happening?
If we only released and consumed information about tragedies—domestic and international—when they occurred, that’s all we’d ever see.
We could read about death and destruction all day, every day. In fact, that’s some of what is turning some of us away from mainstream news and social media right now. It seems everywhere you look there is another report of sexual assault or another shooting.
Business as usual isn’t a lack of respect for these tragic happenings.
It’s the understanding that sometimes we just need to read about a library.