How Phones Made Me Understand the Horror of Last Night in Orlando
This isn’t an article about gun control, politics, about the gay community or rights or lefts or religion.
This is not about presidential campaigns and making things better and abolishing Islam and even fighting wars with ISIS.
This is about humanity.
Breathe in, breathe out. Does your chest rise and fall, does your heart beat? You are alive. And you are a human. And this piece is about being human.
For one day, let the labels and identities wrapped around letters and words fall away, drop the hard-baked opinions and fighting stances and battle cries. Instead, for this moment in time, be you — a human being.
You’ve read the news. You woke up to the alerts on your phone, the tweets, the talk radio and the Facebook posts. You heard the whispers on the street and the conversations over brunch.
Did you hear about Orlando?
You take another bite of scrambled eggs and sip your mimosa and sigh, because you don’t know what else to do, what else to say.
I’ll admit — on this rare 70 degree and sunny Sunday in San Francisco, enjoying a meal with friends, drinking bloody Mary’s and eating avocado toast — it was hard to really feel the weight of what had happened.
We’ve been desensitized, we all know it.
We scanned the news, we shared our fears, we tried for a moment to imagine, but then we moved forward. We took another bite and got up to clean the dishes, we texted our parents and sisters and maybe a friend we know who may have been in Florida, just to feel like we did something.
Just to feel like we weren’t ignoring the atrocities that occurred while we were dreaming.
But then I heard something that changed my outlook, that made me think and feel for this situation in a way I hadn’t experienced before — phones.
I thought about phones.
In one article, a journalist sets the scene — the club, once lively and energetic, now a thing of nightmares, a horror of sights. And the invesitgators, the police shuffling through it all are trying to shut out the noise — not of electro pop beats and laughter and banter, but of phones, hundreds of phones.
Phones of the deceased and critically injured are ringing and buzzing and pinging away as we speak, as if their owner were to tap the screen and reply like it was just any other day.
All these phones. All these souls gone, these relationships shattered, these worlds and lives forever changed.
Thousands of calls will go unanswered today, and forever.
No, this isn’t another piece about solutions and blame and politics and laws and lawmakers and lobbyists. There are enough of those thoughts, opinions, and vicious attacks from one side to another circulating around.
This isn’t even an article about phones. It’s about being human.
Because for a moment it shouldn’t be about our opinions or frantic solutions or about being guilty or fighting to be “right”.
Because the ringing, buzzing phones — vibrating in hip pockets and purses and in hands next to cold bodies — lie next to human bodies, who won’t wake up to receive the said calls and text messages from friends, lovers, and family members anxiously awaiting a reply.
Please tell me you’re ok.
Dude are you there?
Good morning! How was last night?
I love you.
I don’t know what my world will look like without you.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
Can you pick up dish soap on your way in?
Are you there?
Please, pick up. I need you to tell me you’re fine. I need you.
After tragedy strikes, we so fervently jump to fight, blame, and posture ourselves. We pick a camp and pick a side, we join in on the debates and conversations until our anger over being “right” divides us — as families, as friends, as a nation, and as the world.
But today, even just today, can we take a moment to be human beings, beautiful messy human beings, together and breathing on this earth, to unite around the rhythmic thumping of our hearts?
Grieve. Weep. Hug your loved ones tight and your enemies tighter. Look around and remember — this isn’t about dividing, but coming together. Pick up your phone and remind someone you love them. You’re sorry. They’re special to you. Breathe in gratitude when you hear a response.
After all, we all bleed red.