Posts Tagged ‘media’
I was with an animal activist friend recently. She devotes her time and resources to rescuing and caring for abandoned animals. On a recent beach walk, she found a dog buried in sand and debris. Somebody had cut and forced a milk jug on to the dog’s head. When she found him, the jug was partially full of sand and salt water, because the dog, now starving, was too weak to move away from the edge of the water. This detestable cruelty to an innocent creature, left her feeling violated and emotionally weak. When she recounted the event to me, she was still having difficulty with the troubling images in her head.
Anybody would have been disturbed by this detestable act, but to her it was especially painful. Someone had attacked what she works so hard to protect. She was left desperately struggling to answer questions.
Why would somebody do this?
How could anybody do something so hateful?
Why would anyone want to harm the harmless?
Just days after the Sandy Hook shooting, many of us are asking the same questions. Somebody attacked the very beings we most care for and want to protect. In a desperate attempt to answer those questions, there is a flurry of speculation about causes, motives and solutions. There is clamor about guns and gun control. There are calls for better intervention for the mentally ill. Many blame society, problems like bullying, the decline in morality, or the rejection of God. Read the rest of this entry »
In the aftermath of an event like the shooting in Aurora, many are glued to their televisions, trying to make sense of what has happened. I avoid the ongoing news coverage, but it is nearly impossible to avoid being over-saturated by the information surrounding such an event. Regularly scheduled news breaks on the radio, the news ticker on my e-mail account, or the chatter of social media, assure that I’ll learn more than I need to know.
Most in the Denver area were still sleeping when I heard the first reports of the massacre, but in those early morning hours, I learned all I needed to know: Innocent people were victims in a tragic shooting. I wasn’t interested in hearing the unfolding coverage, because in the immediate hours after such a happening, what is presented as news, is mostly speculation.
Without ever tuning into a news broadcast, my head got its fill of hearsay and unsubstantiated details–or what we used to call gossip. Some speculated that James Holmes was a right-wing crazy, others were convinced he was a pawn or operative in a left-wing plan to disarm America. Some suggested he had an accomplice, others said he acted alone. Some held him up as evidence of a Godless society, some blamed bullying or the failure of parents to raise their kids properly. Still others attributed the act to American economic powerlessness, because James Holmes failed to find a job after graduate school. Many placed the blame on the movie producers, and/or society’s desensitization to violence. People speculated on whether he was mentally ill, under the influence of drugs or just the product of too much video game violence. Most of those who put forth theories, were no more qualified than I to comment on his mental health or the cause of his actions,
Only one thing was clear.
When things like this happen, we seek to make sense of them–but things like this don‘t make sense. Something went chaotically wrong in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, when what should have been an escape into movie fantasy, became a frightening reality with few chances for escape. Knowing why it happened, will do nothing to make us feel better about this senseless attack. No law could have prevented it. There is nothing that can guarantee we won’t see something like this again, and nothing we learn will make this tragedy make sense.
Despite this, the media disseminates information in an effort to help answer questions as to why it happened. Anyone whose opinion might shed light on the event, is given a microphone. Reporters dig up neighbors, colleagues, classmates or whomever is available to comment on what they knew of the suspect.
What I find troubling (and ironic) is that the people who knew the suspect, usually inadvertently admit they didn’t know the suspect. Typical they say things like, “He kept to himself” “He was a loner.” “He minded his own business“. Then they express their shock at the actions of the person they didn’t really know, a person nobody really knew.
What we don’t hear are close friends talking about the many hours they’d spent with that person. I’ve yet to hear anyone talking about the memories and the laughs they shared, or how much they valued the friendship. We don’t hear those things, because often the person(s) who commit this type of senseless violence live in an isolated world of emotional turmoil.
James Holmes played team sports in high school, surely some of those teammates interacted with him. It seems likely he would have made connections to those with whom he shared an interest in video games, or the people in his academic program, yet sadly he lived his life in strange and solitary way. Maybe something in his make-up made it hard for him to make friends, or maybe something had caused him to be distrustful of others. He may have been a mad man or a sad man, but for some reason he felt no normal connection to the people who would become victims. He was disconnected from those around him, long before that disconnect in his head, caused him to do what he did.
We all face loneliness, frustrations and despair, but if life is hard, it is harder for those who have no one to talk them down from a tree, or off a ledge. If the world is sometimes lonely for those who have close friends and family, how much more so it must be for those who don’t. I don’t mean to be so simplistic as to suggest that if Holmes had some homeboys, this wouldn’t have happened. Dylan Klebold had Eric Harris, and both of them had other friends, yet they both felt like outsiders.
Americans live more isolated lives now, than a few generations ago. The internet, e-mail and smart phones make it easier for us to stay connected, but we often spend more hours connected to our electronic devices, than to the people around us. When I was a kid, we didn’t turn to reality TV to get a glimpse into other people’s lives. If we wanted to know what was going on in other people‘s lives, instead of inviting strangers into our living rooms via television, we’d pile into the car and drop into the living rooms of those we knew. We didn’t call ahead or set a time, we just showed up. Before there was Yahoo, there was Yoohoo, as in, “Yoo-hoo, anybody home?“.
Back then, instead of feeling imposed upon, by an unannounced visit, the host would welcome the unexpected disruption. The host(s) would fall all over themselves apologizing, if they didn’t have anything to offer guests, as expressed in the very popular 1950s hit “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d've Baked a Cake”. Even if inconvenient, they’d insist you come in and sit down, and everyone would settle in for a visit.
There isn’t much to a “visit.” Talk, listen, talk listen. Not much else. We dropped in into see a new baby or to meet a friend’s out-of-town visitors. We dropped in on those who were going through hard times. We dropped in when we learned somebody had lost a loved one. On those occasions, we brought the cake–or a casserole, but mostly, we dropped in for no particular reason.
Visiting was a good pastime, but more importantly, it was a way of staying connected to the people in our communities and cultivating relationships with them. It was offering and getting support, without joining a support group. We knew our neighbors, and they new us. Back then, those who kept to themselves were considered to be odd or at least unfriendly. Now I live in a city, where most social visits are by appointment only, but where I come from a car in the driveway, is still as good as an invitation.
It is unlikely close friends could have stopped the thoughts in Holmes head, but what if Holmes had the kind of friends who drop in unannounced? If one person had realized how deeply troubled Holmes had become, what could he have done? Who could they have turned to for assistance? Even if one person had sensed Holmes was a time bomb with a short fuse, the authorities probably couldn’t have done much, because Holmes had yet to commit a crime.
It does no good to wonder. It is too late for the his victims, but they serve as a reminder to us all, we don’t live in a vacuum. We don’t always make the effort to get to know the people around us, but perhaps we should. If there is anything to be learned from this tragedy, it is that we need each other. We all need others to help us make sense out of what we go through, and to help us get through the things that don’t make sense.
Sometimes ordinary people do extraordinary things, and we eat it up with a spoon. We go crazy when we hear stories about things, like school children raising thousands for charities or housewives launching successful companies in between P.T.A. meetings. Unfortunately, we are just as amazed, but much less impressed when extraordinary people do ordinary things.
Amy Winehouse was an extraordinary personality, with an extraordinary talent. The naked emotion in her songs, combined with her unique voice will be the last living will and testament of a life cut short. Sadly, a persona as grandly scaled as her hair, fueled the media and public’s appetite for news of her troubled life, causing some to forget she was an ordinary person who just happened to be extraordinarily talented. Under all that wild living was a troubled girl, who knew she was living dangerous. She knew her path was one of self-destruction, but our media-driven culture shows little compassion toward high-profile personalities, when they wrestle the same demons as society’s lesser-knowns.
I don’t care much about the life & times of celebrities, but the news of Amy Winehouse’s death saddens me. Since my first hearing of Winehouse, I have been fascinated by her roots in North London, her training as a singer, and her descent into ever-darker places. Her foray into music, began at an age when most of us are still trying to figure out who we are. As her voice & talent became the driving force of her life, she hardly had time to develop a foundation solid enough to withstand the challenges of young adulthood. Like many other young stars, she quickly became a victim of “too much, too soon.”
Her music was an exposé of pain; her songs those one would expect from someone who had been around long enough to know stuff it takes a lifetime to learn. Except, she hadn’t lived a long life–she‘d lived a short life on hyper-drive. Death by fast living is cliché, but I have often thought fast living speeds up the hands of time, causing one’s life clock to run out sooner than intended.
If she hadn’t recorded the hit song Rehab, we might have never have heard of her, but she also might have been seen as a more sympathetic character. Some will say she chose her own fate. In songs and interviews she often acknowledged her own self-destructive ways, even suggesting her own death in her early writing. This causes those who would judge her, to ask, why, if she knew she had problems, didn’t she just quit.
Those are the same people who say things like:
Fat people should just stop eating.
Alcoholics should just stop drinking.
The emotionally damaged should just start coping.
It’s all so simple to those who don’t understand the nature of addiction. Those who have been there, will tell you it isn’t so simple. With addictions, the desire to use is constantly battling the desire to quit. That would be struggle enough, without the additional complication of the effects of one’s chosen “opiate”.
No matter how big the personality, sometimes their problems are bigger. The same sensitivity that causes some to be able express what others feel, can also cause pain that seeks to be anesthetized. Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Karen Carpenter, Ernest Hemingway, Judy Garland are all reminders that talent is of no use in dealing with pain. Considering the difficulty we all experience over incidences of public embarrassment, is it any wonder celebrities crumble under the pressure of having every mistake or misstep scrutinized and magnified by tabloid journalism?
There will always be those who live their lives in unforgettable scale. Amy didn’t wake up one day and decide to become a drug-addled disaster–anymore than Belushi planned to die in a Sunset Strip hotel.
Social media provides a glimpse into the collective reactions to her death. There are those who have already condemned her as her own killer, those who will see her timely induction into the superstar death club with the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain as a fitting tribute to her talent, and those like myself who will grieve her death along with the sadness that she died before she’d left a bigger discography. The most compassionate reactions will come from those who knew her best. Instead of seeing her, as a train speeding to disaster, they will remember that before cocaine & heroine, there was once just Amy–a nice Jewish girl who went astray, a girl whose dalliances with drugs & alcohol, displaced the life she could have lived.
“It’s the biggest media event since the death of Michael Jackson!”
I haven’t regularly watched TV in almost two years. I take time to watch an NBA game, when I can, but I’ve generally lost interest in TV. Even as a non-watcher, I find it impossible to keep TV out of my consciousness. Radio, social media, and newspapers cover TV, as if it were news. I often feel I’ve watched stuff I haven’t. Even the commercials become part of pop-culture and our collective psyche.
Recently, thousands brewed espresso, set their alarms or DVRs, so as not to miss The Royal Wedding. It was “must-see” TV. That same week, I received the above tweet. It referred not to The Royal Wedding, but the death of most-wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden. At the time, I was blissfully far from continual news and having to listen to those who stretch a few sketchy details into hours of coverage. I was mercifully spared the torture of listening to comments on other peoples’ comments, or interviews with experts who know little more than the viewers, of the thing on which they are commenting.
Nevertheless, I was struck by the remark above and how our obsessive interest in celebrity often becomes more important than the real issues that used to constitute news. From most of my friends, the response to the death of Bin Laden was an enthusiastic, “Hell yeah!”, but there were those who were merely miffed that shows like Desperate Housewives and Celebrity Apprentice were pre-empted.
As the news unfolded (or failed to) we were subjected to more inaccurate and insubstantial coverage. Controversies about the story, replaced the story. Why was Osama buried at sea? Why was the government keeping the pictures from the public? Did Osama deserve to die? We were also learned the names of Nick and Mariahs’ twins, heard the latest news of the would-be king & his bride, and finally got a break from Charlie Sheen, American Idol and Trump’s quest for Obama’s birth certificate.
The tabloids at the checkstand, declared Oprah is gay and Osama begged for his life. Through popular magazines we learned Marie Osmond wore her original wedding dress when she remarried her first husband in an LDS temple and Kirstie Allie has lost 90 lbs. while dancing with the stars. Oh yeah, and in case you missed it, a natural remedy for impotence was found in Osama’s medicine cabinet.
The media makes everything a circus, but the tent with the freak show is still the biggest draw.
For all of my adult life, the media obsessively covered Michael Jackson and Lady Di until their tragic deaths. Whether it was the glamour or the tragedy, there seemed no point at which we’d had enough.
Remember the how long we had to listen to the outrage when Michael Jackson held his baby over a balcony for fans to see? It was as if, no mother had ever seen her husband toss a baby into the air, while fearing the worst. If it hadn’t been Michael Jackson, it would have been much ado about nothing. Yet, Jacko’s act caused weeks of discussion, finger-wagging and tsk-tsking. Finally, we had proof he was an unfit parent–as if the litany of his other odd acts, like naming a child “Blanket” or making his kids to wear masks & veils wasn’t evidence enough.
Kato Kaelin, Camilla, Paris, Kim Kardashian, and Spencer Pratt are just a few of many, whose celebrity is based on nothing except association with celebs or media over-coverage. There are politically-outspoken personalities like Donald Trump, Cher, Julia, and Sean Penn who believe their celebrity status makes their opinions valid for the rest of America, despite the fact that most of them live lives far different from the rest of us. But if you don’t embrace the politics of Hollywood, the media provides alternatives like Joe the Plumber, Snooki and Cindy Sheehan. Like all the other celebs, they are just people–people who are really no more interesting or knowledgeable than you or I.
We are obsessed. Being privy to the drama and failings of the lives of others, should serve to remind us they are ordinary people with the same problems as the rest of us. Nevertheless, we continue to fawn, spellbound and eager for more details. In the meantime, the real news which affects us, is edged out of our periphery, so stations can secure ratings. We know more of Susan Boyle and Nadya Sulliman, than of our government’s economic policies & practices. We are more interested in the coterie of the red carpet, than the details of Obamacare. We more likely know the names of Jackson’s chimp or Siegfried’s tigers, than the terrorist animals who threaten our security. Like drivers craning our necks to see an accident, we want to know the gory details, even when we know it’s in our best interest to look at the less interesting stuff in front of us.
This is true only about 99.5 % of the time.
According to one online dictionary, boredom is the emotional state experienced during periods lacking activity or when individuals are uninterested in their surroundings.
Many believe activity is the secret to accomplishment, but I would argue the contrary. I am convinced there are times when a lack of activity breeds greatness. In fact, I believe boredom is the performance drug of geniuses.
Our modern-day world is full of stimuli. There are more sights and sounds around us than at any time before. With the exception of those who have experimented with psychedelic drugs, there has never been a time when our minds were bombarded with more. Watch a favorite old movie and you will quickly be reminded of how fast-paced entertainment has become. People now have more entertainment on their iPods than would have been available in a month of TV or radio. We can carry in our pockets what used to be a wall of vinyl LPs. With video games that simulate everything from sports to killing, there is simply no reason for us to experience boredom.
That’s a damn shame.
Preschool teachers know our brains are fed by what they are exposed to, which is why a story, shared by one, struck me. She told me each year, they would introduce construction toys–like Legos or Tinker Toys. There was a time when these toys needed no explanation. Naturally curious, kids would begin handling them and quickly figure out how they could put pieces together. However in recent years, she explained it took kids longer and longer to even figure out what to do with such toys.
Most kids play with Legos or something. Some kids build their kits and place them on shelves, but others become bored, and begin exploring other possibilities. This is boredom at it’s best.
Some of the best and brightest thinkers in the world are who they are because of boredom. I am convinced there would be no be-bop, jazz, blues, hip-hop or rap, if not for those who had too much time on their hands–in other words, the kind of boredom that causes experimentation. This is the only explanation for how those who are not classically trained become visionaries, innovators, or masters.
It takes time to become great. When all of our unspent moments are occupied, we may miss what we might have been. In a world that provides endless opportunities for filling our moments and our minds, there is less time for finding the greatness in our own heads.
Boredom gives us time to think, forces our heads to find new ways to pass time and shows possibilities we’d never explore if we only allow our heads to be filled with the ideas of others. Properly cultivated, boredom can quickly become interesting.
I love being a girl, but today it would be advantageous to be a guy. I’m thinking about sex and trying to figure out some stuff. Even if I get it right, I won’t know if what I believe to be true, holds true for a guy. Which means, I can 100% right for me and still be 50% wrong. So with more questions today than answers, I’m hoping that maybe the devoted gentlemen followers of de blog will help those of us with an X-chromosome figure it out.
Okay, so we’ve already established that I’m the happy holder of an x-chromosome, but right now I’m thinking about those born under the Y-chromosome. It all started the other night when I was in a nightclub. I wasn’t wearing a nun’s habit, but clearly, I was wearing more clothing & less make-up than any other female in the club. I was looking at the other women, based on what they were wearing, it’s clear they wanted to be viewed. Tight things, short things and revealing things, made me wonder is less always more?
Back in the day, the briefest glimpse of mammary flesh was enough to cause big thrills for those y-chromo-beings. With breasts on display like 4-H livestock, I was wondering if there is a point at which so many become passé. Seriously, is a breast really so much more attractive than a great shoulder or a long leg? Or is it only made more attractive because of the mystique of being kept under wraps?
Since I’m not a guy, I can’t answer that. Based on what I know of men, I doubt they’d tire of breasts if they were in a room with breast-wallpaper. But thinking so much about sex lately, I’m probably sounding a little like a guy–I assure you there is a good reason–which I’ll get to shortly. I just finished rereading a book that had a profound impact on me years ago. It had been so long since I’d read it, I decided to revisit it, to see if I felt the same about it now as I did then.
The book’s main assertion is that the sexual revolution ruined sex.
I have to think about that. The sexual revolution was well underway before I was, but as the mother of a young teen, I have good reason to wonder about the impact of too much exposure to all things sexual.
The whole point of the sexual revolution was to end the repression that kept people from being able to enjoy sex and free us all up to be more sexually fulfilled. The new morés of our culture suggested that we should all enjoy more liberty and variety in our sex lives. That’s when things started to get complicated.
Isn’t sex supposed to be about intimacy and isn’t intimacy about knowing the other person? So how much intimacy can we expect if we barely know who we’re with? Does the depersonalization of sex lessen the quality or just redefine it–like those income tax forms where if you don’t want to go through all the trouble you can opt for a shorter one. You might miss a few benefits, but with the simpler form, you’re done much quicker, and we all know how good it feels to be done.
My background in marketing causes me to always consider the trade-offs between quantity and quality. Call a focus group so we can get some numbers and determine how many people one can be truly intimate with. Is it one or two in a lifetime? or one or two a weekend? Without intimacy, sex becomes much less personal. If it’s less personal, it’s probably not as significant and the quality may suffer. In marketing terms we’re talking about user experience vs. user satisfaction. It’s a process vs. product thing.
So at it’s most basic sex is merging one’s physical being with that of another–oneness. I will assert that if sex is about becoming one with another, their pleasure should be our pleasure and vice versa, however if we don’t know them well enough to really care about them, how invested can we really be?
Traveling with a group of men awhile back, the subject of the hotel’s pay-per-view porn came up. As the younger men discussed the hotel’s offerings, an older man interrupted their conversation to share the following insight:
“Porn is great for awhile, but ultimately it will ruin sex for you”.
He says it with authority and I’m happier not knowing how he’s reached this conclusion–in fact, I’d be happier if I wasn’t having to listen to guys drool-talk about porn while I’m lunching on a B.L.T. Nevertheless, it starts me thinking.
Porn is about sex, but it isn’t real sex and though some people can’t get enough, it’s a flimsy substitute for the real thing. Despite this, porn is now widely available and becoming more mainstream–women, who used to object to porn because it objectified women, now constitute the fastest growing segment of an unapologetic market.
But, what if my friend was right? What if porn will ultimately ruin sex?
Having grown in in an age when everything was “dirty”, I’m not advocating for going backward. I feel bad about the days when we weren’t allowed to talk about things and didn’t know the names of the things we would have liked to have talked about–but I’m starting to miss the desire that came with that which was previously forbidden.
Which brings me back to the teen in my home. In this age, I can’t be the same kind of mother I had. There is simply no way to keep my son from being exposed to sex. I can talk to him, I can educate him and I can try to imbue him with my personal views, but I can’t shelter him. At his age, he’s probably seen more skin on TV, than my husband has in his entire adult life. In the media, sex is a product. Process is sacrificed to mass-produce what sells. If he or anyone else translates this to real life, sex is reduced to nothing more than “get ‘er done”. If it’s common, mass-produced and readily available, the quality has to suffer.
I’m not ready to go back to the era before the sexual revolution, but I wouldn’t mind turning back the clock while my boys grow up.