What Google can show us about our reaction to mass shootings.

If you watched the news Wednesday or the following morning, you heard of yet another mass shooting.

This one in San Bernardino, California.


Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images News.

It was the 1,042nd mass shooting since Sandy Hook in December 2012.

Not again, you think, as you scour the Internet for details.

You come across a report with "live updates" like this one from the LA Times. 14 people have died, 17 are injured. Police have killed two suspects, a man and a woman, and another one is in custody.

You and millions of others turn to Google, where you type in the location of this shooting. You tweet or update Facebook about your rage, your frustration that this has happened again, your despair that politicians will still do nothing to protect you or anyone else from the next mass shooting. Because there will be more. The pattern will repeat itself. We know this. We've seen this.

Then you probably forget about it for a bit. Until news about the next mass shooting breaks.

A candlelight vigil after the WDBJ shooting in Roanoke, Virginia. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

According to Google Trends, interest in a mass shooting peaks on the day of or the day after, and then almost immediately drops off the day after that.

This is what happened with the WDBJ shooting in Roanoke, where Vester Flanagan shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Aug. 26, 2015 during a live report.

U.S.-specific search interest for "WDBJ shooting" peaked on Aug. 26 (represented on the chart by the number 100), but then quickly dropped off on Aug. 27.

This was the day that major outlets like the New York Times reported on one of the victim's fathers calling for gun control.

During the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine people were killed just a few months ago, U.S. search interest peaked the day after the shooting on Oct. 2, then rapidly faded by Oct. 3, just one day later.

And if two is a coincidence, three is a pattern — the same search behavior can be seen of the Isla Vista shooting, where Elliot Rodger killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014.

It's not just these three. It repeats when you look up the trends for the mass shootings in Marysville, Washington; Charleston, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee, and others.

We care about these tragedies. We care about gun control. Why do we lose interest so fast?

Maybe because we get burnt out quickly on the tragic details. Maybe a few days in, we're being bombarded by information and have less need to seek it out.

Maybe there's nothing to do but get angry for one day — a few at the most — and then move on.

Maybe after so much death and so little being done about it, we feel there's no hope of any meaningful gun control legislation passing Congress, of any laws or initiatives addressing related issues like the misogyny behind Rodgers' attack, or the anti-abortion rhetoric that motivated last week's Planned Parenthood shooting.

If there were a time to enact gun control, you'd think that the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where 20 children and their teachers were gunned down almost three years ago, would have been it.


There were three-fifths as many "Sandy Hook" searches from Jan. 13-19, 2013, when President Barack Obama announced a four-point legislative plan to prevent gun violence. Yet by April 14-20, 2013, we had moved on, and the proposed legislation failed to pass, even in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

We want solutions, but have we somehow failed to demonstrate significant, lasting outrage over them?

Maybe we know Congress won't stand up to a powerful gun lobby on behalf of their constituents, as CNN reported after the Senate defeat.

But if we don't search, and if we don't speak out beyond a day after a mass shooting, when solutions are so obvious and have been enacted successfully in every other developed country in the world, then it's on us when nothing changes.

A mere three days after the San Bernardino shooting, the search pattern is already following the trend of the shootings that came before it.

The day after Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, a Senate amendment expanding background checks at gun shows and for online purchases — and one that would ban people on the terrorism watch list from purchasing guns — were rejected.

By that day, search interest in the shooting dropped to almost zero.

If we want things to change, we can't let our attention waver. Writer Nicole Silverberg put together a guide on how to contact your elected officials, along with a sample email and phone scripts and tips from Everytown for Gun Safety.

Let's break this cycle. It may seem difficult now, but we have the anger, and we have the tools. Let's use them to make things change for the better.

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Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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