I’m living without cable. Now that does not mean I don’t have TV. I have a ROKU box, it cost me less than a hundred bucks and it streams Internet to my TV via wifi.
On the ROKU I get television. I subscribe to Hulu+ and Netflix. Even though I get the milktoast version of the nightly news (NBC) via ROKU in short, edited clips that have the effect of watering down a broadcast even more than NBC already does. Not that a little watering down of all the disaster and despair of the world is a bad thing.
My colleague today told me about another school shooting somewhere. I wished she hadn’t told me because I may not have known about it. But then I wondered if I should know so I can care about those poor people who were shot, the poor families, the poor shooter’s family, the poor cops that have to clean it all up.
I wondered about the Japanese Tsunami, I still had cable then and I watched with horrified fascination as whole villages were obliterated in one black wave.
But I also wondered, what if I had had no cable? What if nobody told me about the Tsunami? I would not have known; I would not have donated; I would not have spent any time thinking about what it must have been like to be in the face of certain death. I would have merely clung to my childhood imaginings of what a tidal wave looked like, a tall roaring wave like the Hawaiian surfers ride on their surfboard.
I wonder if the reality of the world brought in by cable is a positive thing? I mean, as far as a school shooting in Baltimore goes, I have no impact on it, I have no power to prevent it or to help its healing. But the news of it has an impact on me. It makes me think that the world is going to hell in a hand basket as one more lunatic goes crazy and shoots a bunch of innocent people.
But should the news make me feel that way? Should I care what happens in Baltimore when there are obviously so many nice and fairly normal people all around me? Am I suffering from a creeping paranoia about the world fed by our addiction to the bad news?
Should I not be equally impacted by the people who did good things today? Surely the ratio of crazy maniacs to good people must be at least 2:1 if not 2 million to one.
Yet it is the shooting that my colleague told me about and it is that one that made me think. It is a little like the Tsunami, a day in which tragic nature wiped out sixteen thousand people. But on that day billions of people enjoyed and benefitted from nature, floated on calm water, hiked in cool mountains, farmed in fertile land.
What right do the news people have portraying the world as a dangerous and evil place, taking up so much space in our minds with stories of the evil, the tragic, the misguided, or the delusional?
Perhaps there is no need to know these things if they happen outside our sphere. Perhaps we will not experience peace until we close off the electronic faucet of bad news that many of us have open wide, allowing all the negative news of the world to flood in and wash over us in a powerful and never ending black wave.