(CNN) —So is this the "new normal"? That's the question I keep hearing as people try to comprehend the tragedy at the Boston Marathon and its chaotic aftermath. The answer is yes—in more ways than you might think.
I don't mean that we're supposed to get used to explosions, school shootings and other threats arising seemingly randomly and without warning. But we should accept that the old ways of understanding and responding to conflicts and threats no longer apply.
In an always-on, post-narrative age, 24-hour cable and Internet news and Twitter feeds offer a steady stream of opportunities for panic and misinformation. We have a suspect; no, we don't; yes, we do. The school is on lockdown; no, it's not. False alarms are still alarms, after all. It's like we are all living in newsrooms, or as 911 operators or air-traffic controllers, for all the emergency interruptions and bulletins we navigate practically every hour.
We live in a state of "present shock."
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