Some time ago- a week a month a day, I have no idea because my time compass is off- I was sitting in a room full of reasonably intelligent people pretending to do the Sudoku but really listening to their conversation.  It was about the LAX shooting and then drifted to the DC Naval Yard shooting that happened awhile back.  But they didn't say LAX or DC, they just said "the shootings at the airport and the naval yard".  And how scary that is that something like that could  happen so close to home and how one lady's son works as a screener at the airport and that could have been him getting shot and another woman's husband works down in the naval yard and oh my god!

They didn't realize that these things didn't happen at the Philadelphia Airport and the Philadelphia Naval Yard.  I piped up when I caught on that they thought this happened in their own town. If you listen to the news with half an ear, every single story is SO IMMINENT!! and SO LOCAL!! and CREATES A THREAT RIGHT HERE IN OUR OWN BACKYARD!! And who has the time or the attention span to listen to the news with two ears anymore?  Remember back when if  you didn't get home by five or if you couldn't stay up until 11 you just didn't get the news for the day?  And everyone managed to survive not knowing what happened in all the obscure corners of the world?

Remember that Mr. Rogers quote that went around after 9/11 about looking for the helpers in the background?  The pictures on the news are shot close-range and high-def and there is no room for helpers.  They are cropped out of the shots. We aren't watching the helpers anymore, so they've just cut them out.

The other morning there was a story on our local news about a woman who lost control of her car and ended up in the river and she and her 46 children all died by drowning right there in the river despite efforts to recover the car (it may not have been 46 children and maybe everyone didn't die and every time someone drowns in the river all I can think is: Great.  Now tiny pieces of those people are going to end up in my drinking water).  But it didn't happen here.  It happened in Minnesota.  Or Michigan.  Or somewhere with an M that doesn't even effing matter because I don't know her and that's not even news, that's just a god damned unfortunate story and at no time ever did they make it clear that it didn't happen in one of our rivers and I thought it did until I went to work and saw the national headlines.

Everything bad that happens in the world is so viral and the people spreading it feed on the fact that our brains work to make everything relevant and local and it's making us all so hyper aware and hyper vigilant and hyper paranoid and reclusive and full of suspicion and mistrust and ill will and caution and all sorts of other nasty things.

This Knock Out game thing that is scaring the pants off good citizens everywhere is making life unpleasant.  Old people and white people are all jumpy.  I almost got sucker punched by an extremely well-dressed and slightly built young man in his twenties yesterday when we both rounded a corner at the same time down there near the bus station.  He was on guard and we nearly crashed nose to nose and he raised a fist before realizing that I'm probably the least threatening person he will see all day and then he apologized and then we laughed and wished each other Happy Thanksgiving and went our ways.

I love the days before Thanksgiving when we can just wish each other Happy Thanksgiving and we don't have to worry about political correctness.  We don't get that treat again until December 26th when we can shift right to Happy New Year.

I'm not afraid of getting knocked out even though I'm the whitest girl ever traveling through not-white neighborhoods most days per week.  Most people don't get knocked out.  Billions and billions of Americans don't get knocked out every single day.  One or two might possibly get randomly punched.  That's pretty good odds.

This year I'm thankful for good odds, for having the sense to know that we are safer than the media wants us to we think we are, and for the ability to surround myself with the helpers in the background.


daisyfae said...

It's not the media. The media does it because we want to be scared... "American stand up comic and alienated drunk" says it better than anyone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Oww4Ap3YZA

we want the fear because it gives our boring lives meaning.

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

They literally just fished a dead man out of the river where I live a day ago. He was tossed off the bridge where I got engaged... needless to say I didn't give a thought to the drinking water until I read this... WHATHAVEYOUDONETOMEGIRL? ;)

I still to this day don't understand the uproar about saying "Happy Holidays!" vs. "Merry Christmas" here in AL if you don't say Merry Christmas you might as well be damned downstairs. I just tend to say Happy Holidays as a general rule of thumb and then say Merry Christmas to those I know who celebrate the holiday. I'll be honest, not since elementary school and grade school have I known someone personally that celebrated anything other than Christmas - but now, I am not sure so Happy Holidays makes me happy all around. It's Thanksgiving, Christmas, all the other holidays AND New Years all rolled into one.

(rant over) :)

Shinny said...

Just do like Frosty and say "Happy Birthday!" to everyone. They will just think you are crazy. ;) Happy Late Birthday to that little boy and what color is your new kitchen? Also, Ooh, something shiny. ;)

Susan Lindgren said...

Its scary to be scared. I can't drive in suburbia Wisconsin at night.
I lock my doors and windows. Rinse and repeat.
I have a sad case of the 'scared white people.' Which sadly has it's own Tumblr page.

Janna B said...

I told my parents recently that probably the world hasn't gotten any more dangerous for our kids, just the media has made us more aware of all the dangers for kids. I hear a sad story every day, feel sad every day for someone who has been victimized. It makes me sad that I don't feel comfortable letting my children ride their bikes to the playground without me, explore without me, especially since that's how I spent most of my childhood.