In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which led to the deaths of 17 people Wednesday, survivors took to social media to express their pain, process their emotions, and remember their loved ones.
rest easy brother, i love you forever , you always pushed me to be the best . everything i do is for you love you man pic.twitter.com/vbVSDVEz39
— Trav (@Travis_Julmice) February 15, 2018
Guac Bro . I just wanna hear your voice. Please !
— Darius (@A1_a1sinceday1) February 15, 2018
Today I woke up excited to go to school in my cute dress and celebrate Valentine’s Day with my friends. Today I came home nearly terrified and worried about the people I care about the most. Nobody should have to go through that.
— lyliah (@lyliahmtaylor) February 15, 2018
But as the posts began making the rounds online, many students found themselves on the receiving end of criticism from observers who took issue with the way they were processing their grief.
Explain your point to me if you think I’m wrong, but why are these kids recording while this terrible event happen? Have some respect for your classmates that died and put your phone away.
— Cj 🇺🇸 (@CydneeThoreson) February 15, 2018
In a since deleted tweet, self-described “Conservative YouTuber” Mark Dice, criticized “Generation Z” kids, who, he claimed, were posting videos of the shooting to Snapchat before calling 911.
Such reactions point to a common inclination among outside observers to police the way young people — many of whom have grown up using social media — grieve and cope with the deaths of their loved ones.
The criticism is nothing new. In an analysis for Psychology Today, Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, wrote of the “funeral selfie” trend in which children and adolescents would post pictures of themselves at funerals, adding that “It doesn’t take much to get people ranting about the narcissism, need for instant gratification and other shortcomings of the Instagram generation …”
“There is no right way of grieving at any age,” Rutledge continued. A major reason children grieve publicly, she said, is for “social support.”
“Social support is helpful when someone is dealing with both chronic and acute stress. For kids who have migrated to using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as a normal means of contacting friends, posting a funeral selfie can be a way of getting that support and empathy.”
Furthermore, as the reactions to Dice’s tweet show, many students took photos and video during and after the shooting, as a safety and preventative measure.
My classmates had no means of help here and took the video knowing it would help in a trial and in education to help make sure this will not happen again.
— Connor (@CDietrich1007) February 15, 2018
Parkland survivors have also reacted with anger online, criticizing lawmakers for failing to adopt policy measures that could have prevented the massacre.
President Donald Trump, who cancelled his daily press briefing Wednesday as news about the shooting was developing, was met with an onslaught of condemnation when he took to Twitter to express his condolences for the victims.
I don’t want your condolences you fucking price of shit, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again. https://t.co/UZPgcPoPUX
— sarah (@chaddiedabaddie) February 14, 2018
why was a student able to terrorize my school mr president https://t.co/rwDRYz3ayx
— nikki (@nikta04) February 14, 2018
Unless you are going to do something about gun control so no one else experiences what my school has, shut the fuck up. https://t.co/9i8Yr2233L
— Morgan Williams (@morganw_44) February 15, 2018
Fuck you. We don’t need your fucking prayers. GET BETTER GUN CONTROL. https://t.co/5JtH9wtJz5
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 14, 2018
As more and more of these reactions began cropping up, Fox News pundit Tomi Lahren claimed that the “Left” was pushing their “anti-gun agenda” before families have a chance to grieve — and, in the process, Lahren herself managed to police the way many of the victims were grieving.
Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn't about a gun it's about another lunatic. #FloridaShooting
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 15, 2018
Lahren’s tweet was not well-received.
A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatized from this tragedy. This could have been prevented. Please stfu tomi https://t.co/qNo03ZE3Ev
— kyra (@longlivekcx) February 15, 2018
it is actually about guns u witch from hell https://t.co/mva3qYu0Tc
— nikki (@nikta04) February 15, 2018
I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren't there, you don't know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns. https://t.co/XnzhvuN1zd
— carly (@car_nove) February 15, 2018
The “thoughts and prayers” phrase has become a standard adage in a country in which mass shootings have become all but normalized. The tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High mark the 18th school shooting in 2018 alone and the second deadliest school shooting after the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 28 people.
This post has been updated with additional tweets.