Sadly, I think another effect of this constant flow of remote horror is that it desensitizes us. Attacks that happen a world away are sad and often shocking, but they don't really touch us where we live. The bus bombings in London, and the train bombings in -- where was that, Spain? Portugal? -- were abstract tragedies, brought to life only a little by video from the scene. People are being blown to bits every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it may as well be happening in Little Whinging.
It's different when things happen in a place -- or to people -- that we know. New Yorkers were affected by 9/11 to a degree that I don't think the rest of us can appreciate. I've met one person who has been shot, and he told me about it within ten minutes of the first time I laid eyes on him, despite the fact that it happened years before. And it made me really, really never want to get shot. If you know a place personally where something horrible happened, it tends to jump to mind every time you pass there, often for many years.
Most of you know that Biscuit and I visited Oslo a couple of months ago. It was without a doubt my favorite city** so far. We both loved the people, the architecture, and just the general vibe of the place. That doesn't make it our hometown by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely makes it more real to me. Oslo is not that big of a city, so when I heard the explosion was in the city center, I knew it couldn't be too far from where we had stayed. It turns out to be about three blocks.
Fortunately for me, this is all happening a world away, and I will soon tire of the unending coverage of who this man was, why he did what he did, and all of the ridiculousness and conjecture. Within a few weeks it will be no more than a modification of the story of our trip. "We were in Oslo just a few weeks before that attack..." I will quickly forget the way I feel today.
Norwegians won't be as fortunate. You can't go through this sort of thing in a city of that size without it leaving a mark. Ask the residents of Oklahoma City.
Oslo city center. I never really wanted to leave this greenspace, which runs for about five blocks. The Parliament building is visible through the trees.
* Or ranted. You say tom-ah-toe; I say people are stupid and I can't believe we have survived this long as a species.
** Displacing Vancouver, which held the title for over thirty years.