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clouds With each day that passes since the horrific tragedy that occurred on Friday, I wake up hoping to feel better, ready for a new fresh start, but have yet to wake up feeling anything less than shocked, scared, angry and just terribly sad.  Saturday was hard as it was the day they released the names of the victims.  Sunday was the first day of rest, first holy day that 26 families would never spend a relaxing Sunday with their loved ones again.  And Monday, marks the beginning of a new week and many kids and teachers are having to march back into school today.  I texted a friend and asked “when is this going to feel better?”

I do not know a single person affected by this tragedy, but as a human being, and yes, even more so as a mother of a 5 and 7 year old, I weep with them and for them, as this hits so close to home.  The tragedies of Newtown could have happened anywhere in this country.

I want to talk about something that transpired on my FTLO Facebook page over the weekend.  It was a discussion that began over my comment that I was saddened to see so many companies and fellow bloggers and small business owners continue on with their promotional social interaction.  Note, I was not implying the world should stop or business should stop, or that we should stop living our lives, but suggested that the marketing and self promotion could have been given a rest for just a while.  I continued to Instagram and tweet pictures of us silly Californians never being prepared for the rain, and attended a company Christmas party, and showed off my sweet baby.

My husband has told me to just let it go, but I can’t.  Not because I want to change people’s minds or attitudes or beliefs, or to beat a dead horse, but because I honestly feel I was misunderstood.  While many agreed and got what I was saying, there were plenty of readers that didn’t and tried to give explanation for my confusion.  I tried to write this post for a long time this morning, and after writing a response to Jules’ post today, I’m pleased with my answer and will sort of just cut and paste it here if you don’t mind.  Because my mind hurts from trying to reword it differently.  Please forgive me.

Several companies, including the company I write for, Disney, went silent on Friday on their FB page. They wrote a brief note of acknowledgement and condolence and stopped ALL means of interaction on their FB page throughout the entire weekend. DISNEY, a mega corporation as big as they come. Usually the weekends are a very busy time on their FB page, and they update several times throughout the weekend with blog posts (like the ones I write), and product posts. Yes, they still went about business as usual in their online and brick and mortar stores, but in the category of social media they went silent.

I’ve thought A LOT about this the past 3 days. I’ve asked myself why it bothers me so much. I’ve even wondered if it has anything to do with the fact that at 18 I lost my brother when he was shot and killed, and we still have not found his murderer. Duh, I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.

In the grand scheme of things, discussions about gun control, and school security, and how we deal with mental illness, and how to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again are all supremely important parts of the conversations we need to be having as parents, and as human beings. But what is also important, is the conversation of how we as an online community and country, react and deal with tragedies like this, in terms of social media and our online engagement. We love to point fingers at violent movies and video games and the role they play in desensitizing our youth. But can we also face the tough question of how social media in some ways has desensitized us adults (and kids too)? Do a quick google search and you will find countless articles and posts about how we are wanting more and more instant gratification of online enrichment, and are ready to move onto the next thing before the current has even ended.

I am not saying that all those that continued to conduct business online Friday and Saturday are heartless and insensitive.  I swear I’m not saying that!  And I am not saying that I did not see plenty of GOOD online over the weekend, because gosh I did. I saw a Connecticut woman I follow on Twitter, who is also suffering from metastatic cancer, take the time to talk about dealing with and processing grief.  I saw well written and thought out posts about how to talk to your children about this tragedy.  And I saw so much heartfelt compassion.  And for the firs time since he took office over 4 years ago, I identified with our President, and felt proud to have him represent us in this tragedy.  But I saw plenty of things that just smacked of ickiness, enough so that it made me pause and question how we, and myself included, are using this medium to engage with each other.

All I wanted over the weekend was for the companies and the small business owners I engage with online to just sloooow down for a bit. Compose yourself, talk and think your strategy through. So that you as a company can prevent debacles like this from happening, as evidenced by KMart.

I know this is a tiny part of the big picture, and moving on from this I plan to focus my time and energy on ways I can help, and try to improve the safety situation at our school.  I received an email from our school principal this morning about how we will look at school safety when we are back from break.  I have a few ideas for her, seeing as how there are at least 5 gates that are unlocked at all times that anyone could just walk right into.  I live 25 yards away from the school and my front door sits directly in front of the lunch tables.  I see my kids eat lunch there everyday and I can wave at them from my porch, and you know what I thought this morning?  They are like sitting ducks right there.  No one would even have to scale a fence to get to all those babies.  That’s the first thing I plan to talk to our Principal about.

And as a Conservative, let’s talk gun control and how we need to have a much more balanced, SANE approach to gun regulation.

And as a mom and member of this great nation, I’m going to look into the best ways I can help those suffering and directly impacted by this tragedy, in the coming weeks and months ahead.  Here are a few resources I’ve found or have been pointed to that outline how you may help in the wake of this tragedy:

CNN had the most extensive list of ways you can help, including links to the Facebook pages of some of the victim’s families.

I did not see the United Way’s link on their list, so here you go.

Nice Girl Notes compiled some more intimate ways to help.

And on that I’ll end.  If after this explanation, you do not agree with me, then we will just have to agree to disagree.  If you disagree, I hope you will at least respect the fact that you can always expect me to be honest and real, even if that sadly costs me some followers and readers, as it has already done.  Tonight I continue to pray for peace for the families of this tragedy, and for our nation to help heal, and come to terms with how to deal with this and try to prevent it from happening again.



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Christine Leos says:

    Well said.

  • Megan says:

    Not choosing ‘black’ or ‘white’ in this issue – rather, grey. My thought: popular bloggers should think about how to use their blogs, followings and popularity to rally forces on this social media platform to do some good. Raising donations, pointing readers in the way of charities (like you did here – but perhaps first and foremost), inspiring readers, who look up to you in some way (or at least like viewing your life via your blog), to band together. Self-promotion? Perhaps a bit, I’m sure it would boost your reputation. Changing the online conversation in the wake of a tragedy; using your social media ‘powers’ to contribute? You betcha.

  • Alison says:

    Well said Andrea! Honestly, I agreed with you from the beginning, but I think you did a great job of clarifying for any who didn’t.

  • Jen says:

    The Newtown Patch also has some links for donations/ways to help. Some are the ones personally chosen by the parents in their children’s name.
    http://newtown.patch.com/articles/ways-to-help-sandy-hook

  • Jen says:

    The Newtown Patch also has some links for donations/ways to help. Some are the ones personally chosen by the parents in their children’s name.
    http://newtown.patch.com/articles/ways-to-help-sandy-hook

  • Ellen S. says:

    I hopped over from Jules page and I just want to say thank you for saying something about this. It was actually my first reaction too when I was thumbing through my twitter feed on Friday evening, but I thought maybe I was overreacting. Now I know that it wasn’t just me that felt that some of that self-promotion needed to be silenced out of respect for a while.

  • Susan G says:

    I get what you and Jules have been saying and have so much respect for you to be able to express it. Yesterday, instead of the usual 11 am email from Rue Lala giving me all kinds of reasons to buy things I don’t really need, I got an email saying they weren’t opening shop that day (a week before Christmas) and instead suggesting donations to United Way in CT. I was impressed – especially because they listed each person who died by first name – reminding us all (in case we needed it) that these were individual souls whose lives were so tragically cut short.

  • kristen says:

    Andrea, I am so sorry you lost your brother. That is just awful and I was so saddened when I read that yesterday and you’ve been on my heart ever since. I can only imagine that a tragedy like CT makes it very raw for you all over again. Every time you’ve come to mind yesterday and today I’ve lifted you and your parents in prayer for continued comfort. {hug}

    • kristen says:

      One more thing – I wanted to share this quote that I’m sure we’re all familiar with, but it seems so fitting today:

      “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Lindsay says:

    When I read your post on Facebook, I totally, 100% agreed with you. What happened on Friday was a heart-rending trauma from which I imagine we are all still reeling. Over the weekend, I looked at all the pictures and kind words about those beautiful babies and the women who died protecting them. I thought it wildly inappropriate that anyone could just go on, “business as usual,” after such a catastrophe. I hate to assume what may be in anyone’s hearts, but I would hope everyone could take some time to consider what happened on Friday quietly and morosely. I would hope people could stop for a moment, hug each other, and mourn together. I thought it was a little tasteless to see people continuing on with “life as usual” when so many people were hurting so prolifically. Thanks, as always, for sharing your opinions with us. I have different reasons for reading all the blogs I do, but I truly love it when someone can open up about topics that are just plain difficult. It takes bravery to do something like that.

  • Corinne says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Even days later I felt wrong just going back to business as usual. Things were just felt…different. Wrong somehow. I was loving on my little ones and posting photos and others arms were aching without theirs. I’m so glad you had the courage to speak out some other things too. Its time to have some hard conversations for our kids sake. And so sad to hear about your brother.

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