The internet right now is filled with confused bits of news about the terrorist attacks in Paris. I don’t really have anything to say about the attacks themselves beyond the futile observation that killing innocent people is evil. But we’ve seen these kinds of events before, and there are a few things I like to keep in mind:
- Many of the early reports are going to turn out to be wrong. There will be confusion, lies, and trolling. The media will speculate, politicians will reassure, and everyone will spread rumors. Don’t put too much stake in any of it.
- Reports of mass panic will almost always be wrong. For the most part, people don’t really panic, in the sense that they don’t act irrationally or without regard for others. The social order holds up, and most people will be as helpful and cooperative as they ever were. And yet the media will still report mass panic, even when there isn’t any.
- Try to ignore the stupid shit people say. This sort of thing kicks people’s emotions into high gear, and some of them say stupid things. My policy is to try not to get pissed off by anything anyone says for the first day or two. It’s not worth arguing about stuff said only in anger.
- Outspoken people will fit events to their own worldview. Whatever you believe, if you think this event proves your point, you’ll want to speak up about it. But if it cuts against your beliefs, you’ll probably find it confusing and remain quiet. So lots of people will be speaking out angrily about how this proves they were right.
- Everyone will say the same thing. There really aren’t that many different things you can say about something like this, so with all of us talking, a lot of us will be saying the same things. Someone else is no doubt writing their version of this post.
- Update: The news media distorts proportions. If you’re upset that so many people are saying or doing something bad, keep in mind that it may just be that the media is going out of their way to find people who say or do those things. And if you’re upset that someone didn’t say or do something good, keep in mind that the news media may just be ignoring them.
Keep calm, stay safe, don’t panic, and take care.