To the man in the orange shirt who fell near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I don’t know if you were hit by shrapnel or if the sheer thunderous rumble pulled you to your knees. I sincerely hope you are ok. I will never forget you.
Your image now sits besides the one of the man standing atop of the car in the Queensland floods. The woman being dragged from the New Zealand earthquake. The people running from the water in Japan. Bloodied tourists limping through the flames in Kuta. A double decker bus, exploded. Hands grabbing onto trees, those swept away. The bodies falling from the towers.
All the images and the terror. Live news feeds, newspaper images, tweet pictures – my mind is full of faces. Strangers I will never meet, but who I think about often.
Our generation has been exposed to so much graphic footage of people in their darkest hours. We know the enormity of the violence, the devastation – we’ve seen every moment with our own eyes, on repeat. We’ve seen it from every angle. Without hesitation, I’m sure my soul has room to cradle your terror, but it’s struggling to see your faces suffer. You should be provided greater dignity.
News organisations have a responsibility to report the news, not shy away from reality, but something needs to change. There are people in those photos. There are loved ones watching that footage. They are living a nightmare being beamed into strangers’ homes all over the world. They deserve more compassion.
Words and images are powerful, but there needs to be more restraint. It doesn’t mean tragedies are being downplayed. It doesn’t mean viewers are being shielded from reality – we are all to aware of the realities of death and horrific injuries. Trust me, we’ve seen it. What it means is those victims are given some privacy at a time they are at their most vulnerable.
Like people who gather at road crashes, somehow we’ve been desensitised into thinking it’s ok to gawk at others’ misery.
My heart goes out to those who were enjoying a day in the sunshine and are now forever changed. I will never forget what those people have done to you, but I am turning off. You deserve more from me.
And to those people tirelessly helping – you are true heroes.
I have been thinking exactly this all morning. It also bothers me when I watch so many different recordings on mobile devices. I realise some people are simply filming the event and of course what unfolds is captured. At what point though would you put your phone down and help out?
When I saw via social media this morning that this had happened, I unconcisouly turned the TV on. For five seconds. Then I made the conscious decision to turn it off. Not because I didn’t care, but because I did. I call it disaster porn. The media play over and over images. I have been thinking about this all day. My heart is sad, but I have been looking for the silver lining… Which has come in the form of “look for the helpers” … People, scared, helped others in need. Showed humanity, in amongst an act of senseless inhumanity. That’s what I’m choosing to focus on.
Beautiful words. Every one of them. I too was horrified by the images that have forced their way on to my screen. I refuse to invade people’s most vulnerable moments. If looking at the pictures could help in any way at all I would do it…. but it doesn’t so I just wont look
I think the man in the orange shirt is 78 year old Bill Iffrig. He has run 45 marathons and I just heard him say in an interview online that he has no intention of stopping. He has a scratch on his leg but he’s fine. I agree, all footage should come with a warning. Someone tweeted (and I wish I could remember who) about an hour after the bomb went off “Twitter is great for about the first 30 minutes after an event and for the next 24 hours it just gets more and more nauseating”. That’s exactly how I feel, once the news is out the speculation, outrage and grief porn and too much to handle.
I couldn’t agree more
I don’t watch for this reason. It’s such an invasion of people’s privacy to have there image beamed all over the world when they are in the middle of a horrific life changing event. It just ain’t right.
Wise words indeed, Bianca. We have become conditioned to expect to see more gore, and human misery, and the media are constantly pushing the boundaries with what they present to us. I am sure the perpetrator of this atrocity is pretty pleased with himself and all the attention he has generated. Just imagining what has happened is bad enough, I don’t need to see it.
I know what you mean, Bianca. It’s a haunting and very confronting image. I hope he and his family are OK. Fi xx