The Times West Virginian


May 19, 2013

We change — at least a little — after each attack

How well do we remember the world as it was before 9/11?

Do we remember what airline security was like? Life before the Patriot Act? What was the school environment like before school shooting at Columbine and Sandy Hook?

What about the bombing that killed three and injured 200 bystanders at last month’s Boston Marathon? How will it change the way we do things? How will the way we feel change?

“The vast majority of people recover quite well in a matter of weeks and months, even from direct exposures,” Terence M. Keane, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University told the college publication BU Today. “Even if somebody was down at the finish line and even if they’re very shaken by the experiences, they are likely to recover in a relatively short period of time. The trajectory for most people is recovery and return to normalcy.”

But is it a “new” normal? After every attack — shooting at movie theaters, shootings at elementary schools, bombings at highly public events — we change a little. We trust a little less. Security beefs up. Laws change.

And something that may not get much attention before the events suddenly gets everyone’s attention.

In Marion County, following December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, some things said on Facebook disrupted classes at a local high school. Officials were quick to move to determine the credibility and threat level of a post, but it seemed to spiral out of control before it was resolved, especially on social media. And just this month, there was information from a juvenile put out on social media, which was determined to be a credible threat of harm to himself or others. Several schools in Marion County, including Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College, were affected, as well as schools in Harrison County. The heightened security immediately caused a frenzy online of rumors and speculation, fear and panic, half truths and misinformation. The situation was resolved, with the boy being taken into custody after several hours with no incident.

But we were all affected, gripped by fear. And watching news feeds and posts did nothing more than add fuel to that fire. It begs the question, “Do you feel like we as a society overreact in the aftermath of mass shootings and bombings?” Do we fear we’ll be the next small town that makes national news in the wake of tragedy?

We asked our readers to respond to that question on our online poll question last week, which is found at And here’s what you had to say:

• We cannot let our guard down and should learn from gaps in security — 30.12 percent.

• Each act of violence and our reaction chips away at civil liberties and lets the terrorists win — 31.33 percent.

• We should react to credible threats, but what’s been happening lately is a frenzy fed by social media — 38.55 percent.

We should reflect a little about how we respond, what we post online and how we can make sure that keeping safe doesn’t have to mean living in panic.

This week, let’s talk about a recent study that shows West Virginia is in part of an area with an abnormally high number of fatalities from traffic accidents. How should we fix that?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor


Text Only
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    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
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    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

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    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

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    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

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    July 27, 2014

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    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

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