I Never Know Whenís Itís Going to Happen
by Rachel Gordon
Journal of Media Psychology, Volume I, Number 2, Spring 1996
Copyright 1996 by Rachel Gordon
One minute I can take it, the next minute, I can't. Suddenly, I can't listen to the news because suddenly my ears cannot bear to hear another parent sobbing into a reporter's microphone, my ears cannot bear to hear another parent offering a reward for information, I cannot bear to hear another family shakily singing Amazing Grace at a Memorial service here, there, anywhere.
All of a sudden, I can't watch the news either. My eyes refuse
to look at another lifeless body being pulled out of rubble -- airplane
rubble, boat rubble, building rubble, car rubble, house rubble, hotel rubble,
train rubble, rubble-rubble, any rubble.
And there is no way I can read the newspaper or a news magazine, because suddenly, I don't want to know the WHOLE story, I don't want to know how those people in that mass grave got there, I don't want to know why the bullet cannot be removed from that kid's brain, suddenly I don't want to know why the emergency warning system failed to warn passengers of the emergency that was about to burn them to death or crush them to death or drown them dead.
Call it overload, critical mass, call it a media-induced nervous breakdown, call it what you will, the silent scream from my lips is: "I can't take any more. I feel sick. I am sick, sick from sickening news, sick of sickening news. Time to run away. Bye-bye media. I'm outta here."
I do not run very far, about a 100 feet, out the backdoor, around the corner, to my safe spot. I sit on the ground in the ivy under our eucalyptus tree.
Outside, it is a different world. The sun is broadcasting light and warmth. Radio Earth is playing hours and hours of commercial-free Spring breezes. A red-headed finch softly twitters its mid-day report on the availability of seeds. The BIG story in my backyard is the determination of the morning glory vine twisting, turning, reaching for the sky. Oh, wait a minute, just in to Action News! The ants have completed their heroic journey up one side of a leaf and are preparing to go down the other side!
Sitting in the ivy under the eucalyptus tree, I take deep breaths of this sanity. And contemplate the insanity I fled -- the reality of the media's coverage of life is this: We get more bad news faster. More and more, faster and faster. It is no surprise to me that I fall behind in my ability to absorb all of it. I do not know about you and how you are coping with the media's monsoon of loud, graphic stories about dead babies, crippled children, maimed men, raped women, slaughtered families, starving tribes, bombed nations.
Me, I can't cringe fast enough, I can't moan fast enough and my tears fall way too slow.
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