It’s been about three weeks now, give or take, since Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade killed themselves. We’ve moved on. Their families and friends haven’t.
Five families are still coming to terms with the sudden holes in their lives and by yesterday, we’d moved on to whether one of the victims’ colleagues should’ve dropped and f-bomb on CNN. We’re a short-attention-span culture.
And yet it’s a valid story how children deal with their parents’ suicide (both Spade and Bourdain had children). But we’re off the to next outrage. Trump tweeted something. Kennedy retired. Your team made a bone-headed move. That other stuff is from yesterday. The cool kids have moved on.
Death threats are buzzing around like fireflies on a summer night. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Maxine Waters, and the employees of the Red Hen have all received them. People walk around wearing shirts that say things like “Rope. Journalist. Tree.” Somewhere along the line this stopped being shocking.
When Henry Aaron received death threats for hitting home runs in 1974, it was stunning. Now that same kind of news would be background noise.
I’m not saying to wallow in these things–that wouldn’t be healthy. But people are more like crock pots than microwaves. We evolve. For all our technology, we don’t like change. We like evolution. We make the same mistakes over and over again, but with effort, over time, the mistakes become fewer and we gradually become better.
We aren’t done in 45 seconds if you put us on high and rotate us.
I suspect that some of the rampant discomfort comes from the fact that our world forces us to go faster than we’re comfortable with. Our attention spans–and the content-providers’ bottom line–depends on there always being something new. A new outrage. A new tear-jerker. A new story that touches our hearts.
We think in bumper-sticker phrases because that’s all there’s time for. So existence become a meme battle and life is drained of its nuance and complexity.
I don’t have a solution. And even if I did, by tomorrow, something else would replace it.
But sometimes the hamster wheel isn’t the best place to be. And sometimes scouring the interwebs for that last piece of information about this guy who’s on your side or that guy who isn’t, doesn’t cleanse your soul.
I guess I’m just getting old. And realizing that most of it’s just noise–something you won’t remember in five days, let alone five years.
It all buries the important stuff. And maybe that’s part of the plan.