Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29, 2016--Tuning Out Istanbul

Last night there was another horrendous terrorist attack on the international airport in Istanbul. At least 41 were killed and scores more injured. The networks, especially the cable news networks, were all over the story, proclaiming breaking news whenever there was something more-or-less new to report.

With great guilt, I watched about 15 minutes worth of the coverage. Enough for me to get the basic facts--the journalistic who, what, when, where, why, and how. And then I shut down the TV and stopped clicking on the New York Times Website for the latest.

I felt guilt since I pride myself on being well informed and concerned and compassionate when there are dire circumstances, especially when innocent people are harmed.

But in those 15 minutes of watching I got most of the who-what questions answered; and though by then no group had claimed responsibility, one knows the who and why. Sadly, these days, after 9/11 and hundreds of other "incidents," it is easy on one's own to fill in those blanks.

So why watch the same eyewitness videos over and over and over again? Because you have family or friends living or traveling in the region? To make certain the horror of the event is forever etched in one's mind? Morbid curiosity? A version of shadenfreude? Better them then me?

And then what does being well-informed mean? How does one best become well informed and then what purposes does it serve?

Isn't being well informed to help think about what actions to take? Whom to vote for? What to write about in letters to editors? What groups to join? Where to donate money? What to say to friends and acquaintances who you want to convince to change their views and come over to your side?

To become better informed about what happened in Istanbul, to immerse oneself in it, again, is for what purpose?

Assuming ISIS is responsible, other than becoming more fearful, to express more rage, what will that then mean in real-life terms?

Will it keep me off international flights? Will I no longer be willing to drop friends off at the airport? Riddled with anxieties about things I can't control, will I become more of a shut-in? Will I vote for Trump believing that he will be better at preventing these barbarous acts than Clinton? Will I sink further and further into despair and cynicism? Will I, more than I do already, want to hide out in Maine and spend less time in target-rich New York?

I can see having an interest in knowing for its own sake. Not as a precursor to taking action. I have lots of those kinds of interests. Not unrelated to Istanbul, some of them include spending time involved with escapist entertainments--my ongoing reading, a marginal interest in a few sports, wanting to listen to more music than at present. And in all cases I want to know more about them.

But as to Istanbul, at the risk of disappointing myself or deflating my self-image, I am attempting to limit my involvement. Still I know I will read more about it later today. Though as little as possible since there will be just a few important additional things to learn. But beyond that . . .

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