On March 15, 2019 Terror took on a new identity by invading social media through Facebook. According to media reports such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Fox News and a plethora of other media outlets, a gunman who is now identified as 28-year- old Australian Brenton Tarrant opened fire inside the Al Noor, Mosque in New Zealand killing 49 people and wounding 48 human-beings. Tarrant streamed his terrifying attack for 17 minutes on Facebook which is a social media platform that many of us now use to connect with loved ones, view funny videos, and generally unwind. His intent was to convey his violent message swiftly. His motive it appears was not only to inflict physical harm, but to also inflict mental harm on as many individuals with his own erroneous beliefs by live-streaming his hate-fueled message.
For the people who lost their lives, not only was the safety of their Mosque invaded. A safe space where they gathered to worship . But in today's society, social media which offers a type of reprise from one’s problems was invaded. So, what happens when social media is hijacked by the ramblings of one is obviously filled with fear? You make a choice! You don’t allow a terrorist to dictate that choice to you.
You shut down your page, you choose not propagate hate, you choose to not have your safety invaded. You choose to process those feelings by listening, voicing and speaking about what it is those situations bring up for you.
Unfortunately for the people of Al Noor, Mosque, New Zealand who have lost their lives our sympathies go out to their families. To the surviving victims, we send hope, and strength for the recovery ahead. They too have a choice to continue to stand for their beliefs and not to allow the violence of others to shut them up or prevent them from worshiping.
As a community, near or far, a hate crime such as this affects us in numerous ways, such as sadness, unexplained lack of sleep, anger, fear, irritability and even nightmares. If you feel unsafe, and would like to talk, please reach out, if you would like to set up a session.
Shannon Shadman, LPC, MSMHC, NCC, M.Ed.