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
  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

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    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

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    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

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