UK Twitter users have rejected the suggestion that recent terror attacks have traumatised the nation – by sharing what really frightens a British person.
The hashtag #ThingsThatLeaveBritainReeling went viral in the wake of the horrific terror attack on London Bridge on Saturday night, in which seven people were killed.
Shortly after the attack, the New York Times tweeted that Britain was “still reeling” from the Manchester bombing. However, Brits were quick to refute the idea that we are a nation in crisis.
“NYT doesn’t get Britain,” wrote journalist Nick Cohen. “We don’t ‘reel’. I’m sure [the] ‘Blitz spirit’ hides real fear. Still, it’s how we do things here.”
Thousands of people have since commented on the everyday incidents and interactions that strike fear into the heart of the typical Brit. And guess what? ‘A major terrorist attack’ didn’t make the list.
When some people argued that the hashtag risked making light of a terrible situation, others explained that – like it or not – jokes tend to be how we cope with things in the UK.
Since WWII, the ‘Blitz spirit’ has become a folkloric byword for the British tendency to display down-to-earth stoicism and determination, even in the face of trauma and adversity.
However, some argue that we shouldn’t over-sentimentalise the experiences of Londoners during the eight months in 1940 when the capital was bombed.
Juliet Gardner, author of The Blitz: The British Under Attack, says that the term ‘Blitz spirit’ encapsulates both endurance and defiance – but points out that for many Londoners, ‘carrying on’ wasn’t a choice.
“People felt during the Blitz that they were expected to take it, especially the working class population, who got the roughest of the Blitz… They felt they suffered a lot and the government owed them,” Gardner tells BBC News Magazine.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terror attack on London Bridge, which left almost 50 casualties as well as seven fatalities. Of the 48 injured people taken to hospital, the Guardian reports that 21 are in a critical condition.
Only one of the people killed has so far been named: Christine Archibald, a Canadian woman from British Columbia.
Image: Rex Features/Twitter