JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Your thoughts and prayers

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As you’ve surely heard by now, another awful terrorist attack took place last night at an Ariana Grande show in Manchester. Twenty two people were killed, 59 others were injured. Among the dead was Saffie Rose Roussos, a local 8-year old, and an 18-year-old college student named Georgina Callander. As the day continues, we’ll inevitably hear more tragic stories of more young lives expunged.

Thank God we have thoughts and prayers.

Lots and lots and lots of thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts and prayers from Justin Timberlake.

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Thoughts and prayers from Ted Lieu and Ilkay Gundogan.

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Thoughts and prayers from Luke Messer.

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And the people at Radikal Records.

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And this guy.

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Twitter is overflowing with thoughts and prayers. And, to be clear, I know people mean well. And I know there’s a sense of hopelessness; a sense of wanting to somehow help the un-helpable. The power of terrorism is that it leaves people feeling lost and confused and wayward. It causes us to seek out normalcy, where there’s nothing normal about one entering an arena filled with children and blowing himself up.

So we do what comes naturally to our brains, and we offer our thoughts and prayers.

But here’s the thing: It’s bullshit. Five million people repeating the same three words is the equivalent of no one saying them at all. “Thoughts and prayers” has turned into air. It’s a mindless saying without a sliver of oomph. I can’t imagine it brings the family members of victims much comfort, at least not any more than “Welcome to Target” or “Have a nice day.” We type it robotically; quickly. Hell, I’m presuming 85 percent of those who say it don’t actually fall to their knees and pray for the victims. It’s just the thing to say. Again—that doesn’t mean you’re not sad. But … yeah.

So what to do? I don’t know. Find the address of a victim’s family and send a card? Make a donation to an organization that promotes peace? Take your son for ice cream and tell him you love him? Step away from the laptop, bask in the sun and realize life is—at its core—beautiful?

I don’t know.