Today's prompt is: "Media frenzy. Nervous at Airports? Created your first protest sign? Taken on a different perspective? How has what you've seen on the news changed you this year? "
I’ve never been one to sit and watch the news – in most cases I find it too depressing, but being in marketing my whole life…I understand what sells. It seems like very rarely are there positive spins on anything, everything hinges upon the latest greatest story of doom and gloom. I do like to be aware of what’s going on, especially since having my son 19 months ago, but certainly prefer reading about it and discriminating between headlines, given the opportunity to somewhat curate my own news intake for the day. This past year has certainly hosted its fair share of horrors, but what I've noticed is, it's how the media handles such atrocity that bothers me as well.
It wasn’t until I went to my first movie theatre in ages that I realized how deeply my psyche had been affected by all of the mass shootings this year. As I pressed back in my seat, I instantly realized I was much more comfortable upright, both feet on the ground, poised and ready to dive, duck or scatter at the first sign of trouble. I tried to relax, armed with Twizzlers, shoveling in buttered popcorn like it could save me, and sipping on soda that I could hardly swallow past the lump of anxiety in my throat induced by every person that appeared past the wall separating the seats from the exit. When the lights went off, I found myself sinking lower into my chair, and when any violent scenes played, I couldn’t help but wonder if now was probably a good time for someone to do something, what with gunfire to help mask gunfire.
Then something in me shifted. I looked around the theatre. There were people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, some were parents, kids, boyfriends and girlfriends, siblings…and I thought, I really need to relax. Even if these other people had a fleeting thought of something happening, they certainly weren’t showing their angst like I was. They were just living their lives, because that’s really all we can do. Sure, we can be prepared, we can take note of the nearest exit, and we can learn self-defense. But what we can’t do is stop living our lives, we can’t let paranoia shroud every day because that’s no way to live.
It terrifies me to think of what could happen to my son out there, or anyone I know, but I’m not going to prevent him from going to public places on the off chance that something may happen. If I started doing that, where would I draw the line? It’s not news that anything can happen to anyone at any time. As much as we try to control it, as much as the media gets in our head and influences our behaviors, our fears, our inclinations, it still comes down to life. This is life and bad things happen, but wonderful things happen too, at least they do if you aren’t sitting in a movie theatre fretting and feeling ill prepared to handle any terrible what-ifs.
I think what would impact me the most is if the news helped me feel less helpless. What should we do if we find ourselves in one of these nightmares they report on? Why does it all have to feel so apocolyptic? I wish the media did a better job of empowering, helping us live confidently despite tragedy and not causing me hesitation in going to a park, not casting doubt towards every stranger because of it. I wish it were a platform for betterment, not just a spoken bulletin of all the ways I might die tomorrow and making me want to become a hermit.
Anyway, on a lighter note, the movie I saw was really good.