Internet Revolts Against “Thoughts and Prayers” With Meme Frenzy

“I called my cats ‘Reflections’ and ‘Wishes’ because they’re ineffective”

Since December 2012, there have been at least 1,607 mass shootings, including the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman killed six adults and 20 children. However, if we were to take a closer look, it is likely that condolences would still be extended to those affected by the tragedy. In the aftermath of such a devastating event, the sending of prayers and thoughts to someone is universally regarded as a meaningful and unanimously appreciated gesture. This was the case on February 28, 2018.

Politicians have sent their “prayers” and “thoughts” many times over the years without actually reducing the number of legislation or tangible actions attached to it. Those numbers have transformed from powerful words to hollow fodder for comfort.

Democratic lawmakers have voiced their fatigue with the term through speeches and demonstrations. Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut stated:

“It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference.”

Congressman Ted Lieu of California walked out of the House chambers in Texas after a moment of silence following the shooting in a church, where 26 people lost their lives in 2017.

“I’ve been to too many moments of silences. In just my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need is we need action. We need to pass gun safety legislation now,” he told his followers in an online post.

The recent trend of prayers and thoughts becoming the first response in place of political satire is not new. Everyday social media users, media companies, cartoonists, comedians, and politicians are not the only ones tired of seeing “thoughts and prayers” as the only response after each mass shooting.

In response to gun violence, individuals now promptly generate and distribute memes, cartoons, and jokes within a matter of minutes or hours.

Change can impact the lives of comedians, students, and artists. However, inaction can shed light on the issue and bring attention to it on Twitter. The phrase #RepeatTheRitual can resurface and the same message about collective action against mass murder can be reiterated. It may seem like a joke, but it is not. It is important to clarify that these jokes are not about prayer, but rather about making jokes. While some people may feel uncomfortable about making jokes regarding prayer, there are plenty of others who do not feel the same way.

Earlier this month, politicians refrained from using the exact phrase on Twitter that noted the past impact some jokes and “thoughts and prayers” deluge may have had on politicians who relied on the phrase in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, which left 17 people dead.

So, in the near future, we might come across memes expressing gratitude towards the first responders.