This I Believe

Angela - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on February 22, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I like to believe that I am a good person. I value human life and I have compassion for other people. Lately I find myself at odds with those statements because I also believe that by not speaking out against what I feel is wrong, I allow these wrongs to continue.

I pick up a newspaper, magazine, or turn on the television. The headlines are so sad and horrible: Pop star shaves her head. Teen shoots up mall, killing dozens. Celebrity dies, who is the father of her child and who gets her money? Woman Murders her children. Star wrecks car, arrested again for DUI. Man stalks and kills estranged wife. Child held as sex slave for years.

There, for all to view, with all the gory or unflattering pictures, are the graphically detailed interviews. Then, you can see a seven guest panel speculating as to the reasons behind the actions and hear all the untold stories spoken by the people who they know or knew. And I watch. And I read on. Taking in all the information and discussing it with friends, coworkers, and family.

So I ask myself: are people today really so cruel and bloodthirsty? More important, am I really as bad as “they” are?

I know gossip and voyeurism are not phenomenons, but it seems that this lust for “blood” and dirt has increased exponentially within this century. Is it just that we didn’t hear or see it like we do today with 24-7 television? Is it really the increase of sex, hatred and violence on shows and movies? Is it that we see atrocities and hatred so much that we are desensitized to humiliation, criminal acts, murder, rape, and death? Or is just that we are all now tolerant of this type of behavior behavior?

Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame or “celebrity, no matter the humiliation or damage it may cause them or other people. What we have now are very few actual “stars” and plenty of “celebrities”. Anyone can be a celebrity, but at what cost and whose cost?

Do I really need to see another “celebrity” in the news headlines when I know my friends, neighbors, or fellow countrymen are over seas dying in a war I don’t understand? Celebrity antics are not as newsworthy as the seriousness of war. Honestly, if these people have real personal issues, they deserve compassion and privacy. They don’t need their humiliation and problems plastered in the media for all to see.

Do I really want to see an interview with my neighbor, after a family member is killed, with the interviewer asking how they feel about the brutal slaying of their loved one? These reporters intrude on their grief with rabid tenacity. They have become glorified ambulance chasers.

Do I really need to see excessive violence and sex in every movie and show? Can I be entertained without resorting to this, or is that the only way to sell shows with really bad acting and lack of a decent script?

Do I want the news channels and newspapers to exaggerate or tweak the facts or attempt to predict the future when reporting events, just to make them tantalizing to the public? If the truth isn’t enough to make the ratings, they need to hire better journalists and more talented reporters.

Do I really want to support the O.J.s and Paris Hiltons with my time, money and attention? I don’t feel that they have done anything to deserve it and it seems the media attention is their ultimate goal.

Do I really want to see reality shows, talk shows and gossip pages that condone humiliation as a form of entertainment?

I ask myself all of these questions. I believe we create our own chaos by our tolerance of bad behavior, lack of consequences for this behavior, and even glorifying this behavior with circus-like media coverage and by using our hard earned money to support it. We can’t stop criminals from committing atrocities or people with selfish intent or lack of self esteem from doing the things they do, but we certainly have a choice when it comes to what we deem to be news or entertainment.

I believe all of this and that I am a good person, but what do I choose to do?

I watch and I read, gobbling up all the details. Unable to look away from the “car crash” called the daily media.

Perhaps, people ARE just cruel and bloodthirsty, after all. And perhaps, I am one of them.