I have to admit that I’m feeling desensitized to tragedies in the news—not simply the events themselves, but their “news-ification.” Hearing about the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, one of my first reactions was to gird myself against the inundation of stories from it.
I feel a little ashamed of this, especially now that I know more about the tragic, epic scale of the disaster. I go through this every time: the emotional battle between “I should care more” and “there’s nothing I can do.” If you’re reading this, I’m sure you understand that it’s not that I don’t wish for the suffering to end (but look at that, I said it anyway). I feel slightly inhuman learning that so many people are in pain and then carrying on about my day. At the same time, there’s no new actions I can take to help them by reading news articles which are designed to rattle my emotions for the purposes of delivering ad revenue.
[The exception that proves the rule: I read one article about how to help the earthquake victims, because I needed to figure out the best place to send money. Just tossing money and walking away also contributes to my sense of disengagement, but that’s really the best way to help. I chose to give to the Syrian American Medical Society, in part because the people of Syria are in such rough shape already thanks to the interminable civil war there.]
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with reading about the many inspirational stories that have come out during the earthquake’s aftermath, especially of the heroic rescues. Nor is there anything wrong with following the ins and the outs of the international effort to sneak needed aid past the grasping reach of the dreadful Erdogan and Assad regimes. (If you’re wondering how I know about these things: I may not read many articles but I read a lot of headlines.)
I just know it doesn’t seem to do anything positive for my ability to be present for the people for whom I need to be present. Is this an acceptable way to think about these kinds of terrible events? Gosh, I hope so. I’m a little wary of seeming callous, but now that I’ve already written all this out… just let me know if you have any thoughts, okay?
I’m working on a new software project! It’s called the Ranker, and I plan to send out separate email updates with more information, which you can sign up for here. Don’t worry, I’ll still talk about it here, too, just not in as much detail.
We have several good candidates for our next lengthy show, and in the meantime we’re getting in Cunk on Earth, a British Colbert Report-style satirical documentary about the history of humanity (aimed at an American audience). I started seeing clips appear on my YouTube recommendation sidebar a couple weeks ago, and had literally no idea what to make of them. “What on earth is a Cunk? Sounds like a nasty alt-right term.” (It’s a name, turns out, possibly made up. She’s a long-running character in Charlie Brooker’s work, who you may know as the creator of Black Mirror.) Then a couple friends explained what it was and that it was worth watching, and that was enough for me. Clocking in at five svelte half-hour episodes, you can’t really afford not to check it out.