An MIT study once found that you do not, in fact, learn from your mistakes. This probably explains a great deal of the breaking news coverage of startling tragedies, where every time the same mistakes are repeated and reverberate through the echo room of Twitter.

The facts about the awful shooting at the Washington Navy Yard Monday morning are still slowly emerging. But we’ve already fallen into an eerily familiar cycle.

There are a number of ways of dealing with the sad fact that whenever something terrible happens, we sink into the same patterns of Urgings of Caution, followed by Breaking Bursts of Misinformation, followed by Panic Directed at the Wrong Person or People, followed by Frantic Racing To The Soapbox, followed by Complaints About The Frantic Race to the Soapbox, followed by the grim sense that we have done all this before, that we keep doing it every time —

One way that you can try is to make a Bingo game! Here’s one I made earlier:


If you win, you get nothing, aside from the dim, depressing sense that something about the way we live now is fundamentally broken.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the events at Navy Yard. I know that’s part of the ritual, too. But we mean it every time.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".