Facebook told me this morning about an active shooter at UCLA, before any other media did, since I'd already gotten the Times digest for the day. As soon as I heard, I went to the LA Times for more in-depth coverage. Once I had the backstory I turned to Twitter for immediate updates, and back to Facebook for updates from a friend who was there. Tomorrow there will be coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in Inside Higher Ed, in The Skimm, and in my Thursday digest of the Times.
It all felt, and continues to feel, a little surreal.
I attended UCLA as a graduate student. I know exactly what building the suspect and victim were in. I saw students running down paths that were familiar, hands raised above their heads. A friend from graduate school, now returned to UCLA as a colleague, was there on campus, as were professors I'd had years ago. One of our current students was headed there to take a class this summer; we didn't know if she'd arrived yet. My heart is with the UCLA community tonight, and everyone connected to the victims.
This could just as easily have happened at the place where I work.
There is no security stopping people as they enter campus. There are no checkpoints. There are no metal detectors to make sure students don't have guns when they enter a building. Yes, you can lock down a building, but not until it's already too late. We are lucky that we haven't had anyone threaten to hurt others, but it's not uncommon for students to think about--and even act on thoughts of--hurting themselves when they can't cope.
via flickr user Duncan Rawlinson
But at the end of the day all we do is debate whose fault it is, if all we do is watch it happen over and over again, what good have we done?
With all of our social media voyeurism and instantaneous sharing of news, why do we do so much "looking out," instead of looking out for each other, from the moment we understand what empathy means?