Dusted & Disgusted

Gregg Hirshberg
2 min readMay 25, 2022


Long before social media was a thing, before blogging had a name and even before dialup internet was a thing of the past, I had a site on AOL. See, that’s how long ago I’m talking about. AOL was the thing. The first thing I wrote about was a local tragedy, in which three high school girls were killed in a car accident. At the time, I was working at Kinko’s (another thing that’s no longer a thing) and a girl came in with eyes puffy from hours of sobbing. She was the sister of one of the girls who died, and wanted to make some sort of necklaces with her sister’s photo laminated as the pendent. That night I went home and spilled my guts on my first post.

The next time I was moved to write anything was 8,436 days ago, on April 20th, 1999. That was Columbine. Watching kids flea from a school that looked a lot like the school I had attended, was one of those moments where you remember exactly what you were doing and where you were.

And the thing is, back then, it took a little more effort to find people online. But after I posted my thoughts, I wanted to find survivors from Columbine, and share my words with them. Borderline stalker-ish behavior, I get it. Hey, we all have our gifts.

I found one, and he left a comment on my guestbook, which I luckily have access to through archive.org.

“Don’t let this repeat,” Zack begged. “Let this be the last!!” As if he knew what was coming in the decades after. And we failed Zack. Along with every other soul that has been lost, and every parent who buried their child, every sibling who grew up with a hole the size of the solar system in their heart and every student/teacher/parent who worried if it would happen to them. We failed everyone and everything.

Our society is a failure.

I’m sorry, Zack.