When Twitter Prayers Are No Longer Enough


By De Elizabeth

Like many people, I learned about the horrific Orlando nightclub shooting from social media. I begin most days with checking Twitter, and when I saw the hashtag #PrayForFlorida trending, I knew that something awful had happened.


The feeling I got when I tapped the hashtag is not a new feeling. It’s familiar. It’s happened before. It’s a feeling of knowing what you’re going to see before you see it. It’s a feeling of dread, mixed with anger, mixed with confusion. It’s the feeling of knowing, yet again, there’s been a mass shooting in our country because this is a thing that happens much too often.




It seems like every few months, the Twittersphere rallies together in a joint prayer, full of heart emojis and collective horror. We ask the same questions. When does it stop? What will it take? Why don’t we have stronger gun laws?  In fact, we asked these questions just yesterday when the news broke regarding the murder of singer Christina Grimmie.

And, in a way, we create these hashtags out of a loss of words. We don’t know what to say, and we don’t know what to do. So we pray in 140 character counts. We offer our love and our hope and all of the things that we believe make us “good” to those who have lost loved ones. And we hope that’s enough – because we don’t know what else to do.

And all of this is well-intentioned. We are angry. We are sympathetic. We are outraged. We are grieving for our fellow citizens of the country and the world. We are doing the best we can.

But the #PrayForFlorida hashtag will be replaced in a day or two – it’s inevitable. Hashtags are fleeting; it’s the nature of the social media beast. Tomorrow, Zayn might post something ~*hot*~ on Instagram, or Justin might get into a fight, or maybe Kanye will go on a Twitter-rant, and another hashtag will replace the one that was trending in our tweeted prayers. (Btw, this is not to say that we shouldn’t care about celebrities because I care about celebrities more than most people – but maybe we shouldn’t treat these things the same way.)

So maybe this time we do something else. Maybe this time we do something more than just tweet out a hashtag and ask the same rhetorical questions to our Twitter followers. Maybe this time, we rally together and, in addition to our collective online prayer, we act.

Let’s act this time. Let’s make the change we keep talking about.

Here are some concrete things you can do to help the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting: 

Donate your blood.

There is a high need for blood donations in Orlando right now, with an emphasis on type O.  One Blood is an organization that is dedicated to helping donations reach victims.

Here are some addresses for Blood Donation Centers in Orlando:

345 W Michigan St # 106
(407) 835-5500

8669 Commodity Cir
(407) 248-5009

2311 N Orange Ave
(407) 898-6446

1800 S Kirkman Rd
(407) 522-3779

2242 Aloma Ave
(321) 203-3190

And in case you needed an uplift of humanity, there are people already lining up to help:

Do your part to help end gun violence & make your voice heard.

Visit Everytown For Gun Safety to join a movement dedicated towards ending gun violence. Or join the voices who have already signed this petition, which is so close to reaching its goal of 675,000 signatures.

Take a minute to write to your town’s representative to express your feelings about gun violence and gun laws. Here’s a guide that tells you how.

Donate money to the victims.

With the death and injury tolls so high, there will inevitably be several funds set up for the victims and their families. Equality Florida, a group that aims to fight for LGBTQ rights, has already set up a Go Fund Me  page with the goal of raising $100k to support the victims and their families.

Show your support for the LGBTQ community.

This particular mass shooting has hit the LGBTQ community hard, as The Pulse was not “just” an LGBTQ night club. Members of the community have described this club as a family. Consider donating to groups like The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention to LGBTQ youth. Other groups: It Gets Better Project, The GLBT National Help Center.

The bottom line is this: It’s okay to tweet your support. It’s okay to share love in Facebook posts and Instagram drawings. It’s okay to feel confused and angry and all of those things. But nothing is going to change if we don’t do something about this. This *is* an epidemic. This *is* a fight for all of us. And it’s time that *we* change the course of our own history.

{featured image via we*heart*it}

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