In The Wake of Tragedy, Please Be Kind ♥️ [An Open Letter to the Evansville Community]
Yesterday, it was reported that a child was left in a car in Evansville, subsequently passing away from the heat. It was a horrific and tragic incident but it's hardly isolated. As the person who gets up in the wee hours of the morning to scan both local and national news to make sure our audiences are informed of everything they need to know for the day, I can assure you that there is plenty of bad news, horrific incidents, and tragedy out there.
Because our main medium here at Townsquare Media is radio, we don't focus on hard-hitting news. We try to leave that to our friends in journalism media. We focus on the brighter side of life, the funny, and the positive. But, when a tragedy hits so close to home, we can't ignore it. Thankfully, Townsquare gives myself and the DJs the freedom to express our deepest sympathies and offer up condolences to the grieving. Unfortunately, I've had report on "the worst day of someone's life" more than once. And in talking to those who have lost someone tragically, especially parents, the heartbreak becomes personal even if you didn't know that person or their family.
One mother told me that when she arrived on the scene of her daughter's accident, she was in complete shock and couldn't answer basic questions from police or reporters. She was dealing with the details of the accident. She was processing the inevitable fact that her daughter died. She was thrust into quickly planning final arrangements for her child. And then she had to face the guilt that surrounded her for making the decision to allow her to go out with friends that night. Then she told me she made the worst mistake of all - she looked at the comments on Facebook. What faced her was a string of really hurtful comments. Blame. Shame. She was already hurting. It compounded her pain.
Another mother I spoke with who had lost her daughter in a tragic way told me that when she finally looked at the comments on social media, she was shocked by how many people who didn't even know her daughter were sharing blatant untruths about her and the circumstances surrounding her death. She was also saddened by all those who had very hurtful things to say about her daughter - a girl who could not longer defend herself, her character, or the truth.
I read some of the comments people shared on various news stories from yesterday. The wall of blame and hate that I saw was really unsettling to say the least. But, it's nothing new. Every morning, when I peruse the stories of the day, sadly I am not shocked by the heavy-handed judgement that we dole out from behind the keyboard.
I urge everyone today and all days to just be kind. We do not know the circumstances that surround this or any other tragedy. And experts have said that this can happen to anyone. Passing blame or judgement doesn't help a situation, it won't bring anyone back. It just makes you part of the division and not part of the solution.
One of my biggest fears in life is that my family be subjected to public tragedy. Is it not bad enough to endure the loss of a loved one and the overwhelming guilt that can come with your part in what played out? But for your tragedy to be scrutinized in a public forum for all to voice their opinion on must be the absolute worst.
My heart goes out to this family and all those who have felt unimaginable heartbreak and done so gracefully in the public eye.