The death of Osama bin Laden was, and is, certainly newsworthy. There is obvious merit in examining the complex issues surrounding this historic event. However, our 24 hour a day reporting, Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, got to keep talking about something society has a way of cheapening the worthiness of any story.
Almost all news stories go from being something we need to know, to something we need to talk about. Our need to talk about the event overrides the limits of the story. Events have boundaries and limitations. There is only so much we can actually learn about a news story. The pace of understanding, the breadth of understanding, is limited by the real construct of the news event.
Unfortunately, our news cycle has few, if any, boundaries or limits. Consequently, we use news events to keep the perpetual conversation going.
We take the story beyond its actual limits and apportion it to every area of our life and culture. We use the story to give everything we believe meaning, even though the story’s meaning is limited to specific people, places, and issues. Simply put, the story of Osama bin Laden’s death moves from being about something to being about everything, to being about nothing. Like a conversation about the weather, the death of Osama bin Laden simply becomes something we talk about to pass the time.
So why do we talk about half the stuff we talk about? Well. . . it’s because that’s what people are talking about. . . it’s what’s happening in the news. Why is it happening in the news? Well. . . it’s because people are talking about it. This perpetual feedback cycle leads to thousands of postings on the royal wedding tiara, the Koran burning pastor, Lady Gaga’s meat suit, Katie Couric’s departure from CBS, and the latest study about how chocolate or caffeine or marshmallows might possibly cure arthritis in cats and longshoremen.
Why are these stories important? We don’t really know or even care anymore. . . but I guarantee you that this is our future.
“Can you believe this weather? It’s almost as ridiculous as Lady Gaga’s meat suit! Well at least they got bin Laden. . . Hey how about those Mariners!”
Our future has become an endless water cooler conversation. . . without the water cooler.
It seems to me that we avoid talking about the issues and events that matter most. We avoid these issues and events because they require more than conversation, they necessitate action. For your convenience, I’ve listed a few stories for you to possibly consider on a rather slow news day.
Your marriage is in trouble.
You’re struggling as a parent.
Your relationship with your siblings is broken.
You don’t know why you exist.
Fill in the blank ____________.
Not all of these events might be newsworthy to you or others. However, there might be one story worthy of your own investigative journalism. There might be one issue in the above list that has not only a reason but an answer. However, it might require that you turn off the computer, put down the paper, and do something about it.
At least before the next breaking news story enters the conversation.