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Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm sickened by the incessant coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting story...

...but not because of the story itself.

Why is it that every time we have a story like this, we have to have non-stop 24/7 coverage of it? Why is it that news sources that have nothing to do with general news are covering it (and not even with a related angle)? Does it really matter, at least the way most news sources are covering it, to anyone outside the general Blacksburg area? Does it really deserve more than a single news story on a standard newscast and then move on? Could it be that, on some level, despite all we say about how "sickening" and "tragic" the story is, we actually enjoy listening to stories about it, that we take some sort of perverse pleasure in letting it distract us from our lives? Could it be that, on some level, we actually want to hear about tragedy? The ancient Greeks did spend much of their free time watching tragedies played out on the stage, and we do seem to value tragic plays and movies more than comedies!

On the other hand, we're already getting plenty of people moaning about not being able to comprehend "what could drive someone to do something like this." Would someone do me a favor and try to find out what would drive someone to do something like this? Because I have a feeling it would lead to some disconcerting conclusions about society, ourselves, American culture, the assumptions we make about people, and even the core of human nature.

1 comment:

DrBear said...

Over at radio-info, you suggested we check here to see why you said what you said. I think it's because you're still young, still feel bulletproof, still discovering your own individuality.

Let me comment as somebody who just turned 50 and learned it only gets you so far - not only in society, but emotionally. I was a lot like you - angry, taking care of only myself.

Over the past 10 years, the deaths of both parents and my marriage have changed me. I know, now, the reason we are here - to be part of the whole, to support others and be supported, to be part of humanity. Man is a social animal.

And when that is ripped apart by an assault such as Monday's, or 9/11, or Columbine, it does affect us. "No man is an island; every one is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

I understand being tired of the full-time news coverage that is 90 percent speculation; I'm a reporter myself and I hate it. (Thank God I'm in print, not TV.) But it's human nature to want to know more.

If you don't, that's fine; you have options, from going to a movie to, well, reading a radio message board. But a lot of people do. And there are just some stories that blot out all else, and this is one of them.

I've made a lot of posts in my personal blog about how I hate violent, bloody TV and movies (24, 300, and so on). Maybe it's because I'm just as sick as you are of violence in real life.