Growing Faith

Talking about Tragedy on Social Media

By Stacie Hoppman October 2, 2017

What do we say in the face of tragedy? How are we supposed to respond? We call for prayer through social media posts and even with trendy hashtags like #prayforvegas. We post articles and watch as the death count rises. Doesn’t it sometimes seem trivial, far removed from the reality that some people went to a country music concert last night and won’t come home again?

Our hearts break with the hurt of those who died, of those who cowered in fear and ran for their lives, but how do we share that on a social media site normally dedicated to sharing vacation photos and funny cat videos? Social media is unique in that it has become a platform for any and every conversation, including the mundane, the insane, and, today, the horrific. How can we add value to these conversations and posts so that they will carry more weight, so that the heaviness we feel will be conveyed with our hashtags and calls for support and prayer? Does changing a profile picture or retweeting a video do anything, or are we simply adding to the noise?

There aren’t really any easy answers to these questions. Perhaps, though, the best place to start is by adding substance behind the words you post.

  • If you hashtag #prayforvegas, make sure you actually stop and say a prayer. Each time you scroll past an article in your newsfeed, stop and pray for the victims, for the first responders, for the city that is still probably shaking with fear.
  • Look for ways to get involved, whether it be through donating money to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, attending local rallies and conversations, or encouraging your local church to support a cause you’re passionate about.
  • Search the Bible to see what God has to say. Find encouragement there, and feel free to share what you learn on social media. Even if you just quote a verse or two, it might be exactly what someone else needs to hear.

Will you join us in a prayer for the victims of yesterday’s shooting in Las Vegas?

God, we come before you, broken and filled with sorrow. We don’t understand the senseless violence and death that took place in Las Vegas last night, and it brings us to our knees. It knocks the wind from us as we read these accounts of terror and loss of life. Won’t you be with the victims and their families? Won’t you be peace at a time when it seems there is no peace? Bring courage and wisdom to the first responders who were there on the scene and who must remain to clean up the carnage and debris. Help us as a Church to respond with grace and with love, to hold the hands of the hurting and to reach out to the lost. Even as we weep with grief, remind us that you are a God who weeps with us, who mourns with us, and who is bigger than all of this. Have mercy on us, O Lord.