What ever happened to the victims of the Tsunami? Were they all accounted for? And how about the citizens of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf? Did they return or did they simply move away? Do we know what happened to the people of Rwanda, not the government but the survivors? One day a story is above the fold and after a while it moves deeper into the paper and then further away from our attention.
Basically, humanity has a short attention span. Stories, which are relevant one day, lose their place in the spotlight as soon as another newer, more compelling ‘piece’ pushes it off the front page.
Archaeologists have taught us that great civilizations come and go and those that inherit the earth have few if any clues as to “why”.. People die from great diseases and plagues. People die from tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions with little or no warning. The earth is not static. Even with the best scientific equipment to predict potential calamity, our lives can be extinguished in a matter of minutes.
Mad men begin their lives as normal babies. We cannot predict with absolute certainty who will end up killing and who will end up saving.Who will be featured on the front page? Most likely it will be the killers. People are drawn to sensationalism. It sells.
Perhaps, for thousands of years the natural cycle of climate changes due to the rotation of the earth caused unusually long periods of draught or flooding. We would never know that unless there was a tangible record or scientific evidence unearthed by later civilizations.
And if there had been such, would we consider it a warning or a curiosity? Remember we have short attention spans and man is usually pre-occupied with immediate needs rather than long-term goals.
Early reporters recorded such events on cave walls. Later they did so on tablets and scrolls. It wasn’t until the printing press came along that man could produce multiple copies of current happenings. However, paper is fragile and oral stories change as memory fades. What is fact? Much has to do with the perception and the bias of the reporter.
Two cave dwellers are writing on their walls. One is looking right and sees a velociraptor, the other is looking left and sees a pterosaur. A million years later, only the record of the pterosaur survives.What is concluded about that period of time?
Today, we have the technical ability and capacity to travel to the scenes of disaster in record time. We have means of recording such events as they happen. We can broadcast warnings and notify entire populations of impending disaster. News is no longer the view or opinion of one reporter.
Before the age of cell phones only a few made the decisions of what would appear above the fold (headlines) or broadcast on radio or television. Publishers, editors and journalists chose the stories which, they felt, would appeal. Much of today’s news comes from streaming video and seen in real time. What is edited for Television is often exposed by the internet.
My generation still likes reading the paper in the morning. We enjoy the editorials and opinion. We like to hold onto the papers and magazines as references. Nothing is enjoyed in our house more than old copies of Consumer Reports, Smithsonian, and National Geographic.But unlike many of our friends, we enrich our daily dose of news with articles on line.
In summary, I liken our own existance to the story that is above the fold. One day it has relevance and the next it is replaced. What is new becomes old. What is obsolete is replaced. Humanity is no match for nature. All things change. Not all for the better.
* Att: Image credit: logos / 123RF Stock Photo