Not many people read this blog and there will certainly be thousands and thousands of more important people commenting on today’s tragedy in Aurora, but I had something I had to say. If nobody reads this, so be it. At least I have thrown it out to the universe and sometimes that is all you can do.
I woke up this morning around 6am and, as I do every morning, turned on my ipad, cleared it of its nightly spam build up, and turned on Safari to read the news. The first page I usually go to varies between Deadline.com, Yahoo News, and Facebook. This morning it happened to be Facebook. I was immediately drawn to several posts about something that had happened 5-6 hours before in Colorado. Clicking on a few links led me to the full story, complete with a video from a phone of people fleeing the tragedy as it happens.
I’m going to let a lot smarter, more appropriate people comment on the acts that occurred in that theater. All I can say is my heart goes out to those people and their families. Senseless murder with no seeming purpose is the hardest kind for us to process, I think. I’m very far removed from it on a personal level, but even I can’t really wrap my brain around it.
What I really wanted to chat about here, being a media guy, is what is happening right now as I type this at 10:25am, roughly ten hours after the tragedy occurred. After learning as much as I could online, I turned on CNN. I stomached that for about an hour and a half before turning to MSNBC and Fox (for a few seconds). I saw the president talk about how today shouldn’t be about politics and politely cut short a campaign speech. What followed was everyone else turning it into politics. MSNBC has just spent the last half hour debating gun regulation laws.
I have my own opinions about gun laws, but I am going to keep those to myself for now. What I really can’t keep to myself is my intense disgust about how we, as a society, react in situations like this. And make no mistake, the media does what we tell them to and we tell them through our viewership. We ultimately bear absolute responsibility for how news reacts because they wouldn’t do it that way unless we watched.
As technology grows and we become more and more engrossed with our various devices, our connections to and the resulting humanization of our fellow man is rapidly disappearing. We’re staring at numbers, debating the connections to the content of the movie we were watching, and talking about the political implications, anything that takes us away from 12 people being senselessly slaughtered by a clearly disturbed individual. Are we, as a society, so incredibly disconnected from the people around us that we can’t connect with the humanity of the moment?
We’re all going to react in our own way and there’s really no wrong way to react to tragedy. Well, no wrong way as long as it doesn’t involve hurting someone else. I’m really disgusted and saddened by how and when we turn it into something that suits our own personal needs or agenda. Today’s tragedy has nothing to do with the upcoming election. It has nothing to do with gun laws or political agendas of one party or the other. It has to do with a very disturbed young man committing a heinous act upon a group of people who deserved better. And they still deserve better FROM US in the days to come. The minute we think it is about Obama or Romney or ratings or page views, we have lost our way on a personal and a sociological level. We have failed in one of the primary tasks we have to accomplish on a daily basis: creating meaningful and lasting connections with the people around us.
Take, for example, the young gentleman taking the movie of people fleeing the theater that has been playing incessantly all morning. In the video, which I refuse to link to, he is standing by the door, filming people running from the theater or staggering out, covered in blood. Why did that young man not put his phone down and help the injured people get out of the theater? Did he call 911 before he started recording? Did he even think about going IN to try and stop this man? Or was “how many views I’m going to get on YouTube” going through his head? It was uploaded about an hour after it was taken, so I can guess. You make your own decision.
I’d really like to think I would have done something differently, but I’m really no better. My wife was leaving for work this morning and I was too busy watching this unfold to grab her, kiss her and tell her that I love her. If there is anything we are to take from this, it should be that moments to grab someone you love and kiss them are limited and we really should take advantage of them while they are here.
Right now, I’m going to turn off my computer, my television and say a prayer to whatever god or gods I believe in that my wife, my family, and my friends get to be in my life for another day. Hopefully, in a few hours, my wife will walk through the door and I will get a chance to wrap my arms around her and tell her how much she means to me.