We are emotional slaves to bandwidth.
A bomb went off in Boston. Tragic, yes. And so immediately the rest of the news didn’t matter. Because what Boston was, wasn’t just a bomb, it was a news bomb. The existence of rolling news meant that without pausing to consider that this was in fact ultimately a series of personal tragedies that would be played out at hospital bedsides, in cold living rooms, religious establishments and over and over again in tormented, confused minds, the media and social networks went into overdrive. Everything had to be settled immediately, as quickly as the bomb itself had happened. This is what news is like now. This is what it’s been like since the untimely death of Diana. The speculation about who, how, the number of injuries and something that illustrates even more how we now grasp at straws: the instant ‘heroes’ and the immediate condolences. I am all for comfort but let’s be real here: at this point we’re talking about shock. Things need time to settle down and clear. But now we don’t have time for that. We have to find culprits, heroes, miracles and peace in the same moment as the event.
The net result of all this is that our emotions are being hijacked into one collective lump of emotional exhibitionism. Some say it started with Diana, perhaps that is true. It doesn’t matter now, it’s out there and it’s all enveloping. We are no longer masters of our own feelings, we turn on and turn off at will. Think about what that means for a moment. Because it doesn’t mean feeling more; it actually means feeling less, never really stopping to think, “Does this really mean anything to me?”
In the end it has to, otherwise it doesn’t count. It really doesn’t.