As I watched the news of the Orlando shooting unfold on television, CNN interviewed a man who came to the scene to try to find his friends. Although it was painful to watch, the man said something that struck me. He said, “Just pray for us.” Here is a man, who identified himself to be a member of the LGBTQ community, asking for prayer.
What followed in response to the Orlando shooting on social media was a mixture of thoughts and prayers, internet memes, statements on guns, and statements on the LGBTQ community. Most social media posts on Facebook and Twitter was supportive, positive, and hopeful. However, many were hateful, negative, and very abusive. Some Christians expressed anger at the mention of banning of assault weapons. Some even blamed the whole Orlando shooting solely on LGBTQ community. Many of the conversations online devolved into hate filled expressions of rage.
When faced with tragedy, especially with such politically sensitive topics of gay rights and gun ownership, most attempts to have a serious conversation online about cultural problems tend to result in defensive positioning. I’m not referring to posting a prayer or a message of support. I’m referring to online interactions that are insensitive or tone deaf to the pain and suffering experienced in tragedy, such as the Orlando shooting.
Our response should include support, prayer, and positive action. However, not everyone agrees. Here’s some of the best and worst I’ve seen online (all comments were publically viewable at the time of posting):