Black ink scrawled on newspapers, “School Shooting In Elementary School!” “Are Our Kids Safe?” Texts flooded into my phone and social media blew up in response to the tragedy. Confessions of fear and panic were posted from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. Everyone was frightened to go to school the next day, but for me, it wasn’t the idea of guns and violence in my school that I feared. But the response from the student body to this recent tragedy.
It's Monday, barely twelve hours since the unspeakable tragedy took place. My entire sophomore class is rounded up and gathered into my school auditorium. The room is loud with buzz about the shooting. I hear people express many things, anger, sadness, fear, even indifference to the topic altogether. My friends discuss how great this is, that we get to skip most of science class just to sit around and listen to the principle talk. A screen the size of a wall had been put up on the stage and the school principal loomed next to a podium. As he began to spoke the room began to quiet, but whispers still lingered. He expressed his sorrow to the latest tragedy and told us that the school had our safety as their top priority. He announced there would be more policemen on guard and a safety whistle in every classroom. Whispers flowed through the crowd like a game of telephone. From what I heard, people didn’t think it would help too much. The lights went off and a what-to-do-if-there-is-a-school-shooting-video lite the screen. A number of kids hooted and hollered as if we were at the movies, about to watch the next big action film. While some stayed perfectly still, sinking into the velvety plush chairs. Then the auditorium erupted with applause from a large group of students as the shooter made their big debut on our screen. As if the shooter was a celebrity the students hooted and hollered. A teacher started yelling at everyone and told them to sit down. Even a student told everyone to shut up, “This isn’t a joke!” But no one cared, they kept cheering and yelling and laughing as they could. I wish I could say I didn’t go along with them, but of course I did. I laughed and joked right along with my friends. What else was I supposed to do? I’ll admit I am not proud of it but if I said something. If I had shown even a small bit of distaste in their laughing and joking I would no longer be that cool girl, whose bright and funny. I would just be another downer, another girl who can’t take a joke. I kept my cool, and I played along with the crowd, blending right in. The video ended quickly after it begun. The principal asked for questions, some were serious, and others… Just trying to make a joke. We were dismissed and my friends talked about ditching school and going to get some fast food or something. When one of my friends, a much braver than me, going-against-the-crowd kind of person spoke up. “What was so funny, that was supposed to be really serious. I just don’t get why everyone was laughing. ” My friends exchanged look. A, she-just-doesn’t-get-it kind of look. One of my friends took a breath and explained. “It's not that no one cared, we just wanted to laugh. Could you really blame us? Those crying teens in the video could be us one day. We joke about this, because it is ours to joke about.” In a twisted, cruel way, it made perfect sense, and the reality of a school shooting began to sink into my mind.