Gwennan Rees

An Open Letter To The World After Manchester.

An Open Letter To The World After Manchester.


I don't know how to start this post. I don't know what to say, how to explain myself, how to describe how I feel - I don't know whether I should be writing it or not?

It's the blogging cliche isn't it? To make everything about ourselves. It's an inherently insular look on the world to be a blogger because you're immediately relating everything back to you and your life and you write about it in your blog. But in a week like this one, after the events in Manchester on Monday I feel so helpless. I feel like I need to say something, do something, help. And that's the whole problem, most of us feel like we can't help so here I am typing away because here on this blog I have an audience, and I feel like if I can just tell you, speak to you guys then I've done something. 

I had a very different experience when news of the attack filtered into my life. Most people woke up to the news - I saw it break live. I happened to see it before I went to bed and every time I refreshed the news there was more and more information. It started as 'a reported explosion in Manchester' to 'an explosion in the Manchester Arena' to 'An explosion at an Ariana Grande gig' and it was then that it hit me - whatever caused the explosion, there were kids in there. And then I couldn't sleep, I kept waking up every hour and a half and checking the news. I saw them announce there were deaths, I heard them announce it was a suicide bomber and by the time the rest of the world were catching up with what had unfolded overnight, I'd been up for hours and the feeling hasn't really left me since. 

I feel physically exhausted by it, by the sheer weight of what had happened. I was overcome with grief for the families, for the children, for the people who had loved ones missing, for all the unidentified people. for the casualties in hospital without their families. I have never never reacted like this to a terror attack and I have done a lot of thought processing to work out my views on it all.  

It's the most cowardly attack I've ever witnessed. 

There is nothing brave about committing a terrorist attack. You can think 'who could do that? Who could carry it out?' but the point is the person or people involved aren't thinking rationally, their hard wiring isn't the same as ours and they believe they are sacrificing themselves for the greater good. Terrorism is cowardly because it's not taking on the armed forces, it's not taking on people with weapons - terrorist attacks happen to normal people going about their daily business but from the second I realised that gig was filled with kids, it took on a whole new level of cowardice. 

I worry for a faith.

I genuinely found myself hoping they'd find out the bomber was a white extremist, simply so the Muslim faith could have this one off. Let me remind you fuckwits - ONE PERSONS EXTREME VIEWS DOES NOT REFLECT THAT OF AN ENTIRE FAITH. It's funny how the silent racists come out on days like today doesn't it? I am continuously shocked by how many people my age retweet the 'how many more until we crack down on Muslims' tweets, who post about it on Facebook. I consider my generation a very very liberal one and it frightens me we might not be. And for all of you shouting about 'why was he still in our country??' He was born here you utter bellends. 

I hate Twitter on days like today. 

I had to sign off yesterday, I just couldn't hack the hate. You know what was trending yesterday along with 'PrayForManchester' and 'WeStandTogether'? #Muslims. What the fuck is wrong with social media. 

People sicken me. 

From the people faking lost relatives to the girl who said there was a man with a gun outside Oldham hospital, people will go viral for anything and it's honestly everything that is wrong with social media. Please remember when you share fake news, the police have to respond to that 'threat' and you're taking time away from them when they could be helping the injured, the scared, the lost. When you retweet missing kids appeals and they're actually bloggers or models, we detract from the real victims. People shock me. 

There are children grieving. 

Don't you dare come after teenage girls for how they're dealing with this. Some of them lost friends, some of them have lost classmates, some have lost parents, aunties, brothers. Some of them saw people die in front of them, some of them were separated from their loved ones, some of them were lost, some of them were in hospital alone- they were ALL fearing for their lived. And for those of them who weren't at the concert on Monday and are grieving and responding like the rest of the world are, don't you dare come after them because nobody, nobody teaches us how to deal with news like this, let alone teaches children. 

Bloggers attacking bloggers wasn't appropriate. 

Oh god, not even a terrorist attack could stop blogger drama kicking off again. Personally, no, I didn't think it was appropriate for us to be self promoting and blogging about our normal stuff and I signed off social media. But only after I posted an Instagram explaining why - I felt like I needed to say something, to acknowledge what was happening but also I cancelled my blog for the day and my scheduled tweets, as did a lot of people. But jesus christ we had to make it about us didn't we? People had arguments over should or shouldn't we be promoting, should Twitter be such a place for sadness but did some people need a bit of light relief? Don't forget some people couldn't get to their tweets to cancel them, some people wanted to continue as life goes on because that's how they wanted to cope. Whatever you deemed appropriate or not what wasn't appropriate was shouting at one another. 

Ariana Grande suffered too. 

I get it, I get the people saying 'Ariana and her crew didn't die so stfu about her' and I get there were a LOT of fans who idolise her who, in their tweets saying how sad for her they were simply forgot to include how sad for the victims they were. Ariana and her crew WERE ok but let's not forget as well as a celeb - she's a young twenty something girl. We are not taught how to deal with it, she was not taught how to cope with the fact that children died at her concert. She suffered too. And for those of you bitching about how she might cancel her tour? You'll get your money refunded, some parents didn't get their children home. Get some fucking perspective. 

We make it about us but it's our way of showing support.

I understand people got frustrated about the amount of tweets along the lines of 'I was in that arena ten years ago, could've been me'. I get it, it's NOT about us but I think actually, making it about us, relating to it is what makes us so compassionate. We pull together with Manchester because we know it could've been any of us at any gig in any city. I immediately thought of my own family. I have a 13 year old cousin in Manchester and my immediate thought was 'IS SHE THERE' even though I knew she's more T Swizzle than Ariana. I thought about Manchester all day, I was there in January, I have friends there who marked themselves safe, I love it as a city and if it had been London or Birmingham or Cardiff or Edinburgh I would have been exactly the same, thinking of my friends there, of memories there because we DO make it about us, we relate it to our lives because we sympathise. 

It shook me more than any other event. 

I don't know what it was about this one that got me so much. Maybe because it was kids. Maybe because it was the UK. Maybe because it was a city that wasn't London which I think has scared a lot of people. Maybe because it was a gig. I don't know, maybe it's a combination of all of them but all terror attacks have affected me. I remember where I was when I heard the news for all of them since 9 11, but this one shook me to my core. 

Life HAS to go on. 

Of course it does because that's how we win, that's how to defeat terror. People continued to go to work, to school, to concerts, we continue to blog. I'm back on social media today because I feel like life has to go on as a massive two fingers to extremists but I still felt my day off yesterday was important too, to share in the grief of families who are going to continue to grieve for the rest of their lives. 

Love conquers hate - but we still need time to take stock. 

You only have to read the headlines to know love triumphs and for all the hate and the shock and the internet racists, love and support shines in times like this. You only have to think of the emergency services who realised the enormity of what was happening when they got the call to get to the arena, who despite what must've been crippling fear to what they might face, they got on with the job they signed up for. To the hotels who took in the missing kids, to the people who opened up their homes, to the taxi drivers to turned the fares off, to the people donating blood, to the off duty workers who went into hospitals to help, to the shops and cafes and delivery drivers who fed the working who hadn't slept, to the people who turned up yesterday in Manchester for the vigil. Love wins overall but a city, a nation are grieving and we definitely have to give that time. 

The people affected were parents picking their children up, waiting to hear how they enjoyed themselves. They were kids who were at their first concert. Kids who spend the night singing and dancing with their Mums, their friends, signing along with their idol. Parents bought these tickets as Christmas presents and birthday presents, as a treat to make the person they love most happy. To give their children memories that last a lifetime. There were teenagers there, without their parents for the first time, allowed go out with their friends because it's safe isn't it? In an arena at a concert. You tell them to stick with their friends, to keep themselves safe, to watch out for pick pockets and keep their bags and phones safe. You drop them off at the door and you pick them up when it's over and you teach them how to stay safe - you don't teach them how to react when a bomb goes off. 

We've all been to concerts, we all remember our first gig, we all know the utterly indescribable feeling of seeing your idol on stage, actually there in front of you in the flesh. We all know the shivers you get when you're belting your heart out to your favourite song in the dark and 20,000 people are singing with you. Music brings people together, music helps us cope, we don't associate it with things like this. 

As much as I didn't know how to start this post and have now written thousands of words I don't know how to end it eloquently enough, to really put into words what I feel. 

So I write, as I did on social media, I shall echo the sentiments of millions of people;


My heart and my thoughts are in Manchester today. 



















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