The world was horrified earlier this week by the nation’s deadliest mass shooting ever, in which 59 people were killed and over 500 wounded by a shooter who rained thousands of rounds down from his Las Vegas hotel room onto the defenseless audience of an open-air country music festival.
As with all such acts of mass murder or terrorism, social media teemed afterward with politicians, celebrities, and “ordinary” folk worldwide sending out the all-too-familiar chorus of “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. Many others dismissed such condolences as an empty gesture, declaring angrily that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” that the government needs to take concrete actions to prevent further such atrocities. Political commentator Kirsten Powers even wrote in the Washington Post that “Politicians have managed to make a once benign, if not comforting, phrase sound almost profane.”
So, has this “once benign” offer of thoughts and prayers become overdone? Are we burnt out on this predictable, kneejerk response after every tragedy? Has sending thoughts and prayers become just a way for people, especially public figures, to signal their momentary concern and move on without having to actually do something?