These are not the kindest of times when it comes to online discourse. Actor and director Olivia Wilde — currently traveling in London with her two children, Daisy, 2, and Otis, 5 — tweeted that she “nearly hit the deck” when her son popped his balloon in a crowded commuter crowd. She asked, “Are Americans traumatized? I’m so tired of assuming the absolute worst.”
Here’s a shot of Wilde’s two kids (with offending balloons?). She shares Daisy and Otis with fiancé Jason Sudeikis:
Some folks — including famous friends like TV host Maria Menounos — were quick to respond sympathetically to Wilde’s tweet about the balloon pop:
Menounos wrote, “I get it completely. Visiting my family in ct, while sitting eating lunch at my aunts restaurant a young boy around 11 walked by the windows carrying 2 huge rifles! i freaked thinking I knew what was coming – luckily they were toy guns but they looked so real..the panic in my [heart emoji].”
Other fans of Wilde weighed in to let her know her reaction to the balloon was — sadly — understandable:
Tracy Weiss wrote, “Yes, we are [traumatized]. I was in a grocery store and heard a loud cracking noise and felt fight or flight immediately. The noise: someone dropped an item across the aisle. I was surprised at my reaction. I have kids. I am used to loud breaking sounds.”
@makesnow6 responded to Wilde, “Every public space I enter with my children, I size up the crowd, I spot exits and hiding locations, and I keep them very close to me.”
But for every sympathetic comment that Wilde’s tweet received, there was at least one more accusing her of being “fake” or a “liar” or generally overreacting. Sigh.
Drache Kraaesna scoffed, “You overreacted. Your chances of being in a mass shooting are worse than being struck by lightning or eaten by a shark.”
Zelda A. Gabriel responded, “A balloon popping sounds different than gunfire. And if you were scared of either you should genuinely seek help instead of complaining on Twitter because it means you probably have issues that you need to address.” Really??
We absolutely understand Wilde’s reaction to the unexpected balloon pop. After all, when the body is on high alert, its reactions can show up in an exaggerated way. And a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll conducted Aug. 7 and 8 showed clearly that nearly half of all Americans are on high alert, all the time. A majority fully expect that another mass shooting will occur very soon on U.S. soil: That’s 78% of Americans polled saying they believe another attack will happen in the next three months, including 49% saying they believe an attack is “highly likely.”
With fear in the American public running that deep, it seems that Wilde is right: Americans are indeed experiencing profound collective trauma right now, especially after the most recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton. And that holds true whether or not we’ve personally been involved in a mass shooting — yet.
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