Along with rest of the world on August 26th, I stared at my computer screen horror watching the final minutes of 24-year-old Alison Parker. The flooding of dread that washed over me while viewing the footage was not due to the graphic nature of the actual shooting. It was from knowing that when Parker woke that morning, she had no idea that instead of covering the news she would be an international headline story in the worst way possible. Her cameraman Adam Ward most likely had ambitions of capturing a newsworthy moment that would go national. 72 hours ago, he would have laughed if someone told him that he would be a household name after being captured by a camera wielding gunman.
My arms were covered in goosebumps sparked by terror as Lester’s camera crept up to the trio filming the fluffy feature piece for WDBJ morning show. Similar to watching a horror movie, I wanted to yell at the oblivious bystanders that all hell was about to erupt. But the image that has caused me to lose sleep the past two nights was the look of horror on Alison’s face. The screenshot that appeared on the New York Daily News the day after, that depicted the split second of realization. The dumbfounded expression of in-studio Kimberly McBroom only added to the gut wrenching footage. The entire world would watch her reaction on replay, as she unexpectedly watched her coworkers be executed on live television.
With my social media newsfeed flooded with reactions of the shooting this week, it was clear that I was not the only person who was particularly struck by this tragedy. Yet as I was reading the outpouring of reactions to the New York Daily News cover story, something occurred to me. Why was it that only an act of gun violence involving an element of shock caught the attention of the masses? Personally, this was first time since the Massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 that an incident involving gun control struck a nerve. Again, it was the element of shock without a motive fueling the mass murders that left the nation outraged. In between the two massacres, there have been countless of public shootings that have been reported, but nothing registered as disturbing as the “typical public shootings’. Perhaps the troubling situation is that myself, and others in my generation have become a bit desensitized to the mass public casualties. Just the fact that most people can understand the phrase ‘typical public shooting’ and the differentiation between massacres like Sandy Hook is troubling. Continue reading