Thoughts and prayers is a popular way of expressing condolences in the United States, used especially by politicians and public figures, who don’t intend on involving themselves in the matter.
It is criticized by many, who see it as insincere and pretentious, as people often express their “thoughts and prayers” but refuse to actually take action to change things for the better.
While the exact origin of the expression is unknown, it has been part of the Christian culture sphere for centuries.
The earliest cases of “thoughts and prayers” in English appeared in books and magazines from the 19th century.
In modern context, “thoughts and prayers” are offered by public figures since the 90’s, following a natural disaster or a different kind of tragedy, like a mass shooting.
Over the years, however the expression became so clichéd and frequent that people stopped taking it seriously.
Many users on social media choose to express their condolences by posting “thoughts and prayers” immediately after a catastrophe only to forget about the incident a week later.
This issue was addressed by several posts and discussions online on sites like YouTube, Facebook or Reddit, where users labeled the empty, recurring use of the expression as pretentious and hypocritical.