March 23, 2011

Willful Ignorance

I've always been a news junkie. Even when I was 10 or 11 I was an avid newspaper reader. I'm fascinated by the world and everything in it, that's just sort of how I've always been. I take pride in keeping up with world affairs. It makes me feel like a concerned and educated citizen and I like that. However, deep down I know it's really just a form of voyeurism and a way to impress the socially conscious women I tend to be attracted to.

I realize that despite dedicating so much of my life to studying the events that transpire around the globe, that I've never made any impact whatsoever on the world outside of my circle of acquaintances. Chances are I never will. A while back when the WTO was having meetings in Chicago I happened onto the protest and my arm and briefcase ended up in a photo that made it onto the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times. I get the feeling that's the closest I'll ever be to making a splash on the world stage. That's OK though, I still like to pay attention. Following current affairs is like following a soap opera but for liberals.

I know that the news is a form of entertainment to me because anytime it stops being entertaining I stop watching it. When the earth shakes island nations, when waters cover the earth, when towering buildings collapse and countries are bombed I turn the TV off. Nothing makes me feel more helpless than watching people die from the comfort of my living room. I bury my head in the sand and just ignore it until things start turning the corner. Until I find out one way or another whether they'll be able to save that nuclear plant I'm just going to watch March Madness.

Does that make me cold? Heartless? Rational? Sensitive? Apathetic? Indifferent? Human? Inhuman? A coward? Probably a bit of each. I'll catch up on the details later, I just can't watch it live.
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Image taken from: http://media.photobucket.com/image/head+in+the+sand+/essobee_bucket/Political/head-in-the-sand.jpg

18 comments:

  1. I don't think it makes us inhumane. It is much better that we stay in a closet than post pictures of candles for the people in Japan on facebook. Not that I am against it, I am just not that type.

    There is a campaign here in Mumbai to collect candles for the people in Japan. I wonder what they would do with so many candles? They should instead donate whatever money they would use to buy the candle and make proper use of it. Bites me.

    I watched the news for 46 hours straight when the terrorist attacks happened here at the Taj in Mumbai. I felt so helpless, the whole time, I wanted to do something, but I could not do anything at all... It sucked. I do not watch the news continuously anymore. I only send my good wishes and hope for things to get better.

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  2. We are generation apathy. At least in my opinion. I watch the news too, but when something really has me shaking my head I have to turn it off. When Republicans are acting like goofballs, yeah turn the volume up and break out the popcorn!

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  3. Certain things are hard for me to watch, too. When I was in middle school and the World Trade Center coverage was on, my mother made us turn it off because she couldn't stand to watch people throwing themselves out of buildings anymore. I think it makes us human to not want to see that stuff when it's completely out of our control.

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  4. I personally believe the news on the TV is just there to glue you back down and hurt, hurt, hurt you. So don't feel bad about not watching. I feel great!

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  5. I do not think it makes you insensitive.

    I've done a few things I've proud of, and a couple that might have made a difference.

    I'm glad there are people around who care and do a lot more than me.

    But I get ONE life. I am going to try and get the most out of that life whether I'm in Utopia or Nazi Germany.

    That might be a little selfish, but I'm okay with that. Overall, I don't think I'm still in the plus column in my effects...

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  6. Christopher- The act of turning off the T.V. is precisely what makes you MORE humane. It's not humane to endlessly gawk wide-eyed at streams and streams of video flooded with drowning humans, or bodily remains of bombings. It tends to desensitize us, turns us into voyeurs of the worst kind. It's perverse. Not to say we shouldn't be aware of what's going on in the world. Absolutely, we must. But write a check, take granny to the doctor's, get out and do something positive. It's really all we can do.

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  7. Great post. The last line in the first paragraph -- something out of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald!

    I feel the same way about current events.

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  8. First, with your writing talent and popular blog and overall awesomeness, I have a feeling you're going to get closer to fame than just an arm on the cover of a newspaper. Seriously. Just keep doing what you're doing. :)

    Second, I am right there with you when it comes to the news. I used to feel incredibly guilty about turning off the tv during tragic times. I had a freshman English teacher who used to bitch during class that she hated her fellow Americans because many of them don't want to watch the bad news or discuss world tragedies over breakfast for fear of losing an appetite. It made me feel guilty. But over the years, and as a newspaper reporter for four years, I discovered turning off the news when tragedy is displayed is what makes us human. Most people don't want to see others suffer.

    After all, how many of us are still haunted by images of burning people jumping out of the twin towers, live on national television ten years ago? I know I am. :( To this day, the image randomly pops in my head when triggered by something or other. We can follow the news AND care about the world at the same time.

    Anyway, none of that probably made any sense. I'm not very good at writing and thinking so passionately at the same time. Haha.

    I hope you're having a kick ass week!

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  9. Watching something doesn't make it not happen. Shit's fucked everywhere whether we're paying attention or not.

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  10. I watched less than 3 minutes of my adopted home being swept by the waves.

    The Christchurch coverage was turned off when they insisted on replaying the woman with half her forehead hanging off being helped out of a building.

    Ignoring the retarded method of coverage and not the event is the best idea.

    Wanna help me get my host families out of Japan before they catch radiation sickness from the water? Theres a hat in it for you. . .

    P.S.
    "I'm not ashamed, you're entertained!"

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  11. What Jayne said. The "news" we're being fed can hardly be called news, just exploiting images of tragedy.

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  12. actually most of the research shows the most popular news stories are the most shocking. As humans we are sickos; we love a train wreck and the worse it is the more we are fixated. The most disturbing news event of recent times was probably 9/11 -it's also the most fascinating to watch.

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  13. I hear you. Hubs and I were glued to the telly 24-7 when the Egyptian protests were on. Now I've OD'd and I can take any more.

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  14. One of the worst parts of being a journalist is the fact that I almost celebrate a natural disaster. Not saying that I want these things to happen, and not to say I don't feel the pain of those that are suffering. Though in the back of my mind when something happens I am thinking, "This is my pulitzer." So if you think you feel like a dick, how do you think I feel?

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  15. We need to be aware of what's going on around us, but we don't need to dwell on the same bit of 'news' over and over and over. It's too depressing. I just want to live in my little bubble and where the world is grand and filled puppies (that aren't abused and abandoned), unicorns (because they exist) and ballerinas (because they're cool, right?). Kidding.

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  16. People react in different ways, I think you're actually in the minority. It's like when there's a pile up on the highway, people in the opposite lane will slow down to get a good look.

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  17. I just posted my annoyance with today's news, then clicky'd on your comment and found this post. Such the kwinkydink.

    I feel the same. Helpless. Sad. Annoyed by the "commentators" and the lack of real reporting.

    Ugh.

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