Sitting at my in-laws tonight, my brother-in-law Trevor and I were eating the last scraps of Sunday dessert. We looked at the news and saw a story about a tragic shooting. There was something all-encompassing that came to mind when I saw this story, and I think I began to rant.
There’s this massive disconnect between mass media and myself.
I’ll explain in the way I tried to explain to Trevor.
The world in which this guy murdered his mother and sister, is not the world I endorse. Reporting on this disgustingly painful story is not the news from the world as I hope to see it operated. I am not pulling a bag over my head, no, but simply sick of seeing no end to stories like this because of the way our world works.
These murders, and shootings, and thefts, and disrespectful behaviour, and desperation are symptoms of the way we live our lives. Consume, keep-up-with-the-Joneses, read terrible newspapers, watch terrible television, watch terrible disconnected (money-grabbing) news media; This is the recipe for a life that everyone (mostly everyone) has bought into for the worse.
It’s not a matter of taste either. It’s a matter of delivery, message, and content from these outlets that make us boondoggled and confused as to the real cause of these tragedies we see and hear about every damn day.
Poor people are committing crimes in poor areas because they are fighting for their lives. If they aren’t fighting for their lives, it’s for turf, custody, bravado, power, or because they’ve been backed into a corner by their environment and their circumstances. And that same environment and those same circumstances are the ones we all contribute to when we participate in the self-centered life we live.
I think of under-privileged areas of urban Canada. They are not just trouble makers, the kids going cuckoo and shooting up schoolyards. They are attending poorly run schools within poorly run neighbourhoods within unsympathetic cities within faceless, unaccountable, red-tape-loving provinces and states. They may have been raised by single parents (who likely come from little education) and are spending less and less time with that parent because of the financial necessity (job) to keep them and their children simply alive.
We don’t realize that they are fighting to keep a roof over their head, and to keep money in the coffers, and all the while this happens, the kids in the schools still DESIRE that which the parent cannot provide. They want the status items. They still see and hear about the pseudo-heroes of our day (entertainers). They want the stuff we all “want”. Even if their needs are fulfilled (home, food, and family) it makes little difference to someone trying to socialize and stand out in the quickening homogenization of our world. The pressure to fit in and “seem” normal can drive people to do awful things, especially if they were never raised to think better of stealing. Nothing is yet being said about health-care needs that the family may be suffering, or members of the under-privileged community having mental disabilities with drugs they cannot afford.
This soup of misfortune added together makes for a lot of opportunity for abuse, crime, disgruntlement, and general malaise.
And what do we hear in the paper or on the TV?
“Man shoots his sister and mother to death over domestic dispute.”
Oh, he was just a maniac. A crazy person. A total sociopath.
You know, the real tragedy of this scene is the ignorance of all those gobbling up this news (drivel). The folks who just shake their heads.
I’ll give you a comic comparison. Dave Chapelle gave a telling example of this in a joke once. He was joking about how kids watch Sesame Street and learn terrible things…like the following.
Oscar is this poor dude that kids and adults are always picking on. “Gee Oscar, you’re such a grouch! / “Yeah! Oscar, you’re a GROUCH!”
Oscar replies, “Bitch I’m livin’ in a fuckin’ trash can! You’d be pretty unhappy too!….I’m the poorest motherfucker on Sesame Street and you guys want to rub it in…”
Chapelle carries on, “and we wonder why as adults we walk down the street and step over homeless people shaking our heads saying, ‘Get it together grouch! Get a job, grouch.'”
It’s all learned. We think these criminals are deplorable, but they are products of their environment, and their environment is a BY-PRODUCT of our way of life. Greed. Self-interest. “I don’t want to live in a community where POOR people live! I have a good job now, and I’m moving to the SUBURBS where it’s SAFE!”
Community has been sacrificed for the general isolation of our separated, designer neighbourhoods, and gadgets. Cable TV has taken place of talking to elders in the community. We used to get our stories from people in the community, not from the paper. The real story, the real details, before they were spun by a magazine, paper, or news program (because of political and financial agendas) used to actually get to the public. Today, we get nothing. We get the disconnected story.
The reporters aren’t even connected to the stories. Most of them anyway. They live in the same separated bedroom communities. They’re part of the class of people who want BETTER and MORE for their family. They are now a part of the class that are leaving their kids at home, flailing, without attention, without adult interaction who are now joining suburban gangs, and having lurid sex parties and overworked parents are shoving their kids out the door when they get home from the stressful job. Go play.
It’s really terrible.
I just realized that today, I have resigned myself from taking my news from sources that have completely lost touch with journalism, research, putting things into perspective, and doing HONEST, un-compromised by-the-sway-of-advertisers stories.
Bloggers, people of the community. People in the world, moving and still shaking, living a closer reality to “community” have the inside track today. Why? Because they are honest and they have no advertisers to pander to…
I’m no fool, as I know that everyone has a sway, and that partisan politicians have teams of people pushing their version of the facts on blogs, but I am talking in terms of community blogs. People on the ground level of cities, commenting on cities. They have more authority than someone being paid to deliver a version of the news.
To quote one of my brilliant brothers, Todd, “you, as a blogger are one of the poets of our generation.”
I encourage you to look deeper into your news sources. There is SO MUCH else out there besides the garbage that finds it’s way onto the major networks or local newspapers. I, frankly, have now given up on news-for-money and entertainment-sold-as-news (delivering us Spears, Kanye, Mary Hart, Madonna, TMZ and the other useless stuff) for good. In a moment of clarity, seeing those stories in the format of Victim/Perp/Conclusion finally made me crack.
That kind of irresponsibility needs to be quashed. Better yet, ignored.
There is also SO MUCH great news that could be shared with us, the citizens of the world, but we are disinterested. We want blood, drama, and, death in our news. Who cares about the good in the world? Boooooring! Good? People only want good if it is associated with overcoming evil. I, for one would prefer to get some good news about the efforts that have been organized within communities to improve those communities. These are the people I look up to. These are the stories I will retell my friends, family, and children. The hate and sadness can take a hike. I’m so over it. I hope you get over it too.
Tom’s News Tips (off the top of my head):
Get some more magazines that maybe tell another side of the story.
If the news you watch has a weather forecast, turn it off. Okay, get the weather and THEN turn it off.
Fox and CNN are the same thing, just on opposite sides of the spectrum. Junk.
If you read the New York Times, like I try to, check out the National Post online once in a while.
You are better off getting your news from Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Seriously.
Public radio…they answer to listeners, not politicians or advertisers.
Don’t believe everything you read/hear regardless of the source. They’re all human.