Could we all stop yapping about the Boston bombing for a while?
As I write, we continue to drown in a sea of tweets, Reddit posts, sanctimonious Facebook updates, and "breaking" news that breaks down completely a few milliseconds later. It was al Qaeda! It was a homegrown Islamic terrorist! It was a white supremacist! It was -- or it wasn't -- connected to the Mississippi ricin guy! It was -- or it wasn't -- connected to Wednesday night's powerful explosions near Waco, Texas! It was the guy in the blue robe! It was the North Koreans! It was God, punishing America for gay marriage!
At Foreign Policy, we get all the scoops, so I'll let you in on some secret inside information. It's hot stuff -- the kind of information CNN and Fox don't want you to have. Here it is:
Someone planted two homemade bombs near the Boston Marathon's finish line. Three people are dead, and many more are injured, some gravely. The police and the FBI are working hard to figure out who did it, but they don't know for sure yet.
And there you have it. That's all I know, that's all the media know, that's all the "security experts" on TV know, and that's all anyone knows, unless they happen to be among a small number of senior law enforcement officials, or unless they happen to be the bomber(s). Currently, we know just as much (or just as little) about the explosions in Texas.
And in light of our collective ignorance and lack of anything solid to report, here's my plea, to the various communities and individuals out there:
Police, FBI: Keep at it. Thanks.
First responders and medical personnel: Ditto.
Reporters and bloggers: Keep digging. When you know something for a fact, by all means, tweet or post a story. Otherwise, please shut up. You're just making us crazy and spreading half-truths and misinformation.
This means you too, Associated Press.
Friends and families of those killed or injured: Take care of yourselves and each other. Millions of thoughts and prayers are going your way from all around the world. Millions of people are sorry for your pain and loss.
Millions more would love to appropriate your pain and loss, out of ideology, political ambition, or simple narcissism. Ignore them. In fact, ignore all of us. You have far more important things to do than listen to any of the rest of us.
People who witnessed the explosions or saw the carnage: Seeing terrible things can leave real psychic scars. Talk to someone, if you need to.
And as for the rest of us?
Stop. Just stop.
You don't need to keep changing your Facebook status to let us all know that you're still extremely shocked and sad about the Boston bombing. Let's just stipulate that everyone is shocked and sad, except the perpetrators and some other scattered sociopaths.
You also don't need to see a trauma counselor unless you have serious preexisting problems. These tragedies aren't yours. Don't devalue the grief and trauma of people who actually have something to be distressed about by developing a case of self-indulgent vicarious trauma.
It's one thing for President Obama to say, as he did Thursday afternoon, "Every one of us has been touched by this attack" and "Boston, you're my home." He's the president, after all -- he's supposed to feel every American's pain. But, when the rest of us wear it, the sentiment is cloying at best, and it's often just plain self-indulgent.