Do you know too much?

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of tragedy..

We are dealing with the mass shooting terror attack in Orlando.. the major news outlets gave us countless hours of coverage of the gorilla at the zoo being killed. Over the past 24 hours, we have been subjected to endless and tearful reports about the boy in Orlando Florida drug into the water by an alligator and virtually devoured..

Tonight, a mom took to social media to share an image of her own son playing in the exact same waters–right before the other boy was taken as a matter of fact–that the alligator attacked at..

It has been endlessly sad.. . cruel and callous.. the world seemingly is a hair trigger away from insanity. And we are going insane watching it all..

This late spring night’s madness is catching up to me a bit..
I ask, cautiously, this question: Do we simply know TOO much?

Gone are the days when news stories took time to circulate the world. Now it’s rapid fire–within moments, seconds.. Social media shared the “Chewbacca mom” and within a few minutes she rose to stardom, even now asking for $20 bucks a pop for autographs at public events.  The gorilla being shot was a national obsession.. The alligator, a tragic and awful story, is also becoming a major worldwide news event..

And people are judging.
Oh, are they ever.
People are saying “those parents should be taken to jail.” It even briefly turned into a mini-race battle on Twitter after each tragic event over the past few weeks…

We are so at each other’s throats anymore, aren’t we? So totally engaged but yet disengaged when it comes to true conversation. Keyboard warriors are battling in basements… the real conversation of humanity has ended. Now we’re virtual.
And living in a virtual world, we can get to know too much..

I am not discounting the tragic nature of the adorable and innocent boy being snatched by the alligator.. but I ask, simply, should we all be subjected to a barrage of media coverage about it?  Should we, as individual consumers of media, let this eat away at our psyche?  Is the 24/7 news stream damaging our actual existence, ruining our creative impulses, and ending our freedom to speak while at the same insane time giving us the amazing platform to say anything?

It is so immensely sad to watch news of the day… So incredibly painful to see grief and strife as it develops around the world. I get why people tune out. I understand why it is a turn off..

Bad news sells.
I just simply want to know if bad news is doing our bodies harm..
I am starting to think it is.

Not too many people know this, but one of my favorite movies in M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER. Fine, laugh if you want. I found the film to be amazingly simple, quiet, and peaceful. Calm when we need it most–innocent to the most degree, and suggestive that humanity can be good.

The film features a character who, quite honestly, I fear I will be one day later in life.

A few years ago, I wrote an article titled “Mr. Leeds is watching.” I wrote then,

Despite it being one of the lowest rated movies of M. Night Shyamalan’s career, I loved LADY IN THE WATER. There is one character in particular who reminds me of so many people in our current time.. His name was “Mr. Leeds” played by actor Bill Irwin.  He is one of the tenants in the apartment building where a magical fairy tale will soon ensue.. but until it does, he is busy daily watching his television set of the latest scenes of chaos, strife, warfare and murder across the planet. Shyamalan presents him as a stoic man, someone who seemingly watches in a silent agony as the chilling news broadcasts play out 24/7 in his living room. And really, isn’t that all of us? The silent majority, not condemning the atrocities across the earth but instead attempting to live our lives as though they aren’t happening? Traveling to work in heavy traffic, consumed by radio interfering with our souls, standing around a water cooler with mindless dribble spewing? That is us.. We are good at heart.. But scared of the consequences of speaking out.

I am going through a period of time where, reflecting on the turmoil if past and present, I am re-evaluating just how often and to what length of time news consumption should occur..  Does watching the repetitive acts of human atrocity almost add to it? Make it continue? Force it into the zeitgeist so much so that we can’t escape its evil clutches?
Has the 24/7 news cycle create a pack of vultures.. we scour the headlines for the worst possible matter .. we consume and regurgitate, argue and point fingers.. and then quickly move on to the next carcass in our sight?

Perhaps a time out is needed..Instead of partaking in the less than blissful news cycle, just recoil into your cot and figure out how to concentrate for a bit..
And perhaps reflect on a very famous poem by “The Guest House,” by the Sufi mystic Rumi… 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.