Now that senseless attacks like what happened in Toronto and Nashville are covered 24×7 by the click-happy media that never lets a good tragedy go to waste, the Twitterati and Instagramites have gotten into the habit of “sending love and healing thoughts” to people they’ve never even met. Sometimes entire cities.

Not to be cynical or make light of weighty events, but this viral phenomenon of well-wishing via smartphone seems more than a little ludicrous and self-serving. It isn’t money or any kind of material support. It isn’t prayer, which somehow ended up on the wrong side of the political divide. So what is it?

Instant gratification? Self-obsession? Grandiosity? Full blown narcissism? Peer pressure? Herd mentality? Magic? The social media version of astral-projection?

How should I know why people do the dopey things they do?

All I know is, if you want to send your love to someone, you let that person know. If you want to wish random people well – or an entire city, for all I care – then do it with your thoughts. The only reason to post it is to make yourself feel good, or to feed whatever other dysfunctional mechanism your brain has taught itself to do.

And here’s a news flash: Nobody affected by tragedy is sitting around reading tweets and posts from strangers. If they are, they have bigger problems than you or anyone else can solve.

If you feel the need to reinforce your own ego, instead of making believe you’re doing good without doing anything at all, why not actually do some good. You know, in a way that might actually benefit those you wish to help. In the real world. Not the magical one.

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  • E Van

    I know and I share you feelings about it. It’s just such an empty “here, I’ll pat myself on the back”. If you want to do something, then DO something. We have a developmentally disabled young man in our local “you’re from” fb group. He got kicked out recently for bad language. I agree he needs to watch his language. I asked for him to be let back in and the responses I got from members were so evil and outright mean, I deleted my post so he would never see it. He was let back in the next week. I actually “friended” him around Christmas. I could see he was just looking for someone to talk to. He has a mother but no father in his life. His mother won’t let him go anywhere alone. He shares some local police calls with the group and did likewise for a recent flooding to our neighborhoods. Yesterday he posted a short video of his phone acting up and asked for help. Several people jumped all over him because it wasn’t city-related. They’re getting annoyed with his frequent posting. Some days it’s a lot, somedays not, depending on what’s going on. I see this as a chance for the community to reach out and connect with him, instead of telling him that he’s not welcome. He’s basically a child in a young man’s body. Lots of people have lately gone out of their way to thank him for keeping us informed. I’m pleased about that, but the people who find it difficult to just scroll on by are so outrageously mean it’s incredible. I reached out privately this morning with one of the “meanies” and just tried to point out how hurtful this is. The man replied that he himself is not as desperate as the young guy and works 50 hrs. a week and the posts are annoying. The man said he himself has ADD and he’s not annoying people. It’s like social media has given people license to say whatever they feel like without regard to anyone’s feelings. You wouldn’t say it to my face, so why say it here? Somehow they just like seeing the modern version of their own name in lights. It’s mindless and thoughtless. So troubling for the future of these young people.

    • Steve Tobak

      What a sad story. Good for you for helping the young man, actually doing something. You’re definitely a keeper. 🙂

  • Monty Gry

    There is a problem. Sounds cruel, but folks just have to shut up. My Dad said “I never learned a thing while my mouth was moving”. Why just write something? Keep those empty, flying around the ether sentiments to yourself. Vapid is the best term. Motivation? I think people write and say that stuff so that they can convince themselves that they are “good”. To me it seems that they are hiding some things.

  • Kristen Carter

    1. At least the messaging wasn’t filled with hate, as is so often the case now.
    2. People don’t like to feel helpless when something bad happens. So they send these dopey thoughts to make themselves feel better.
    3. We are in a unique time when this outlet is available to us. Some abuse it, some are dopey with it, and some are really trying to help. I think some of the posters don’t know what else to do, and, in reality, can’t do anything about the situation. So they post.
    4. There is no doubt that narcissism and magical thinking plays a part. But, I have a feeling that it’s much easier to reason with these people than the haters. Sometimes. Some narcissists don’t listen much either.

    • Steve Tobak

      Of course. Just wanted to rant. Dude.