Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

I’m not on social media much these days. It’s too exhausting.

Mostly, I use it these days to see what my friends’ kids are up to, find cool science articles, or stare at adorable rescue dogs that I want to bring home.

This week in particular, I have been angry with social media. All week long, ever since Tennessee became the latest in a long, long, long list of school-based bloodbaths, I have been scrolling by post after post from kind, well-meaning, good-hearted people, screaming their anger, frustration and grief.

It infuriates me.

I know you mean well, and I’m not angry at you, I am angry at the situation. It’s like that old gag, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it.” Only, see, the joke works because the reality is, no one can do anything about the weather. It is an impossibility, so the juxtaposition is funny.

This is different. We actually can do something about school shootings. We just don’t. Which confounds my brain.


I wonder if all that ranting and wailing and rending of clothes tricks our little brains (which are built for a simpler time) into thinking we actually have done something.

Facebook was only founded in 2004, and before this virtual chat space, we had to actually talk to each other like real people. And when real people get together and talk in real time, this funny thing tends to happen – we do more than just gripe. We almost inevitably start making plans to fix what has gone wrong. In cyberspace, we never hit that mark.

My point is, we could – and unquestionably should – be channeling this righteous anger into actual, meaningful action.

The sociologists at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence have listed their three top things to do to prevent mass shootings. One, teach students and adults to report warning signs. Two, develop and publicize around-the-clock anonymous tip lines. Three, conduct behavioral threat assessment and management. Details on these can be found at

All true, but it feels like focusing on the wrong moment. Like mopping up the spilled milk that’s on the floor without righting the glass to prevent more of a mess.

Apparently, this is a radical notion, but in my mind, it seems logical that purchasing a gun, a tool whose only purpose is to kill, ought to require at least as much from us in terms of testing and proof of stability as driving a car. The fact that we have failed to make that happen baffles me.

Advertisement can give you contact information for your legislators. Write to them. Write often. Make it impossible for them to not enact sensible gun precautions.

Beyond all that, though, I want us to work on the root, the thing that has gone wrong. I want us to create and fund actual, meaningful early childhood experiences, top notch public education and universal health care, both physical and mental. Normalize taking care of ourselves and each other. Normalize kindness.

This is not a wild idea – it is what is working in other places. We have the data. We have the research. We have the funds and the people to make it happen. We simply need to decide to do it.

To quote a post I have seen on, yeah, social media: “I want to live in a country that values children more than it values guns.” I do. We can make it happen. Will we?

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