Yesterday two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 150.
It’s always difficult marshaling my thoughts in the wake of these tragedies. Everything is a little scattered and disjointed.
As has become the norm, this is another event I learned about through social media. I saw the first comments about an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon (my first thought: They run the Boston Marathon on a Monday?) on Facebook. I hopped over to CNN for details, found the barest sentence of an update and went back to social media for all kinds of updates. Seems like it took less than 20 minutes for photos and video of the blast to surface. Vague details, misinformation, ridiculous speculation and stories of the triumph of the human spirit were all flowing.
I turned on network TV coverage for only a few minutes, just to watch the president’s address, and was quickly pushed back to the Internet. I can’t stand the unending footage of shaky cam footage of carnage. I much prefer the news online where I can pick and choose what I want to see, decide for myself whether that video is worth watching, get the warning about gruesome photos and decide if I need to see that.
It’s a different experience. Though the need to know something, anything, is pretty much the same.
ContextRight now this attack feels huge. It will be interesting to place this event in context once we have some distance. It’s not Sept. 11 big, but it has that kind of feel to it. While the number of injuries is enormous, so far the deaths are, thankfully, relatively low.
I think the manner of the attack rather than the impact is what makes it feel so large in my mind. It wasn’t just some random bombing, it was targeting a major sporting event that draws half a million people. It’s also the first major attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11. While we still don’t know much about the attacks, the manner of them—what appears to be IED-type bombs like what our soldiers face in Iraq and Afghanistan—in some ways brings those conflicts home. It’s too early to know if there are any connections, but it’s a similar style of attack.
Finally what makes it feel larger in my mind right now is perhaps the way I’m experiencing it with almost immediate social media updates. The 1996 Atlanta bombing at the Olympics would be pretty comparable—major sporting event, two dead, more than 100 injured. Though my experience of that event was extremely limited. I would have been in high school at the time and would have paid minimal attention to the news. I knew it had happened, but I don’t remember following the updates. While the Olympics was obviously covered pretty heavily, we didn’t have the civilian photos and videos like we do now.
For better or for worse, that allows us to experience these violent events more intimately. It gives us a small taste of what some people around the world experience on an almost daily basis.
I Want to Run
One thing I do feel after the Boston bombings: I want to run. I’m not much of a runner, but I’ve been getting into it, slowly trying to build up my endurance. I don’t know if I could ever run a marathon (I don’t think I’ve even run five miles at once yet), but at times I think about it. I usually run on Tuesdays, so running today isn’t anything special, but it is important that we get up and keep moving. In my own little act of defiance against our attackers and in a show of support for those hurting in Boston, I’m going to run.
Update: I ran five miles this morning (and didn’t collapse).