I never know what to say when I hear about something awful happening. No word or deed can provide comfort to those who have lost a loved one and yet saying nothing is perceived as being insensitive. In the years following 9/11, the world has bore witness to far too many tragedies. After the news breaks of each horrific event, the news and social media outlets immediately become flooded with messages such as 'pray for x,' 'our thoughts and prayers go out to x,' and 'our hearts are in x.' There are thousands of identical messages being sent out and it reaches a point where the words and our responses to tragedy have little meaning. Are we incapable or unwilling to have real responses to these events? We default to distributing the mass produced one sentence response in lieu of sharing our actual reactions. It shows we care and want the world to be a happy, peaceful place, without giving away whatever our personal feelings may be. Fear and anger, sadness and loss, or even numbness and indifference can all be masked by the canned one liners spreading across the web.

What is really needed is honesty. Be transparent with yourself and take the time to reflect on your personal feelings without the constraints of 140 characters. Don't share an empty phrase; spend the time healing your own mind. For some this means time spent in thoughtful isolation and for others this means putting hands to work in service of those effected by tragedy. Whatever your method, think before you share another empty catch phrase.

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