It was a beautiful day. My friend was getting married, the weather was perfect, the bride gorgeous and the friends aplenty. My girls and I were all in our wedding best and the party to celebrate the long awaited union was underway. It was not until I saw a Simulated Mass Shooting App aimed at my kids that my day was, literally, ruined.
Let me paint the picture.
All of the kids at the wedding, maybe 10, were outside playing in the grass area. The sun was down, the air carrying celebratory voices and jubilee. My girls were running with friends they knew, all of them in their pretty dresses, smiles of childhood on their faces. I was standing next to my friend’s husband watching, just chatting about nothing.
Out of the dark of the trees comes a kid, maybe 15 years old, with a tablet. He is dressed in dark clothing and neither my friend’s husband nor I remembered seeing him at the wedding. That aside, because clearly he was someone’s child, he walked to the middle of the lawn where the kids were playing.
He lifted his tablet and I could see that there was a semi-automatic rifle clearly displayed on the screen. It was not a game, there was no point counting ticker or other images on it. It was just the gun. As kids ran by, he hit the tablet face and bullets sprayed on the app all around. The tablet made shooting noises and my friend’s husband and I stood, mouth open.
Debating what to do, the kid aimed his ‘gun’ at my 7 year old and ‘shot’, giggling as he did.
I lost it.
I told him to stop it. That is was not funny and that that was not OK.
The kid, to his credit, did not argue, but rather turned off the tablet, not a word to me, and disappeared again. I did not see him the rest of the night.
The image and the idea of this upset me so much that I put it on Facebook. If you know me at all, you know that everything goes on Facebook. I did get a comment about trying to get likes for a controversial post and I got a few asking me what the big deal was. ‘It’s just an app.’ But most were as mortified as I was.
Yes. It was just an app. An app a kid was using to simulate a very real, very scary thing that many in this country have had to actually live through. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. An app that, as the kid ‘shot’, caused him to giggle and smile as he aimed at my daughters, there to celebrate a wedding, not to imagine their death at his hands.
It was, honestly, too much for me and so I yelled. Did I do any good? Who knows. Did I stop this kid from ever doing it again? Probably not. Did I prevent a kid from turning fantasy into reality? I doubt it. Was I glad to see him leave and not come back with that damn app? YES!
Here is the deal. This was not OK to me. Now even a little bit. Not on any level at any time at any place. This was not paintball or cap guns or some other game meant to be fun. This was a kid living out a fantasy on an app that he had no business using. An app that could stir the same reaction and feeling that he may think could come up if he shot for real. One that looks like a game but can turn into something all too real. We all know it happens. We have all seen it. We live with the possibility every day as we send our kids to school.
There will be the argument that I am too sensitive. That at least it was just an app and not a real gun. (You think?). That he is just being a kid. That him playing on the app in no way means that he is the next kid who will shoot up a school.
Fine. But let me ask you this. If your sweet child that you have raised is running around at a wedding, laughing hysterically, and some kid pointed his semi automatic rifle app at him or her and unloaded, laughing along the way, would YOU keep your mouth shut?
I really don’t think anyone would. In fact, I would venture to say that the image is so powerful and so scary and so close to home that some of us would end up in jail taking this kid down.
Maybe I am wrong.
But I don’t think so.