“We had bought ourselves a radio that we could listen to all day long now that we were living in a house wired for electricity. At first I thought that was just grand, but it meant that for the first time I was also listening to the news every day, and about every day, it seemed, there was a report about some crime or another in town. People were always getting robbed or having their cars stolen or their houses burgled if they weren’t getting raped, shot, or stabbed.” from Half Broke Horses (Jeannette Walls)
It’s not much different these days, almost a century later, except now it’s the Internet. This morning when I flipped open my laptop, yet another awful news heading spilled across the screen: Mass. Warzone, Bomb Suspect Dead, Another on the Run. (It’s no coincidence that the writer chose to use the short form for Massachusetts in context with “warzone.”) We’ve just heard about the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, and now this. The bloodshed is just never-ending.
My solution for dealing with such endlessly depressing stories may appear unsympathetic, but that’s not the case at all. I am deeply saddened by them, but don’t want them filling my mind for the entire day. I simply turn them off. I avoid news sites. There are so many other, happier things for me to think about, and while some might argue that awareness of what’s going on in the world is a better state to be in than ignorance, I don’t think that seeding a country’s population with fear is helping the situation.
I have this theory (or perhaps it’s more of a strong hope) that there would be fewer acts of terrorism if the media refused to sensationalize them and didn’t keep publishing the killers’ names. Of course the perpetrators should be brought to justice, but by publishing their names for the world to see over and over again, they become notorious celebrities in their own right – which, I’d guess, is one of the reasons they do it in the first place (in addition to having sick minds). We all know the names of ‘famous’ killers and terrorists throughout the past century because they’ve gone down in history. Now imagine if they weren’t discussed endlessly, but rather were shunned into a corner of faceless criminals who, for unimaginable reasons, desired to hurt humanity. The consequences for their actions might suddenly seem less appealing if instantaneous negative fame was not one of them.
Creating fear among people is probably the worst thing you can do at a time when the U.S. is being torn apart by tragedies. Fear makes people vulnerable, irrational, and less effective. So wouldn’t the U.S. government really be doing its people a favour by keeping them posted in a less graphic, fear-mongering way? Plus, there’s a lot to be said for being knowledgeable about one’s own little corner of the earth without adding the stressful weight of having to worry about crimes happening all over the country.
“So I kept my pearl-handled revolver under my bed. I also bought a little twenty-two pistol to carry in my purse. ‘Mom, you’ve become such a worrywart,’ Rosemary said. She was right. On the ranch, we worried about the weather and the cattle and the horses, but we never worried about ourselves. In Phoenix people worried about themselves all the time.” Half Broke Horses
What do you think? Am I completely out to lunch on this or do you agree?