"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kill Shot Fever

It’s a bad idea. Writing about it. Watching it. Thinking about it or at least thinking too much about it. But when I saw a tweet, or a headline, or whatever I saw first, soon followed the urge to watch video of two TV news employees being shot to death on television. For real. I had the urge right away. Go watch it, Jake, urged some very deep and persistent part of me or my mind. But I didn’t. Not sure what stopped me. I just know that from the moment I found out about the live killing. Live killing. I was able to avoid the urge, the porn-like urge? No, maybe a bit different. I don’t know. But similar enough in urge quality. The undeniable, visceral curiosity of seeing something that ranks among the greatest sins, and in this case the greatest tragedies. Though this won’t bare any noble reflection of me, I may have been able to avoid the urge to watch the video because of the beauty of the reporter. She seemed adorable, intelligent, healthy, and lively. If I had only the picture, liberated from all context, the crush would have been pure and instantaneous. Now the attraction was heavily diluted by the reality that this fellow human being, fellow mammal, example of success and hard work, had been gunned down minutes or hours earlier. So instead of just thinking about a pretty woman, I was grappling with the knowledge that she was dead, and mass media was giving me the opportunity to watch her be killed. For real. I was tempted. It was like a fever, with the wanting a fever produces. Summit fever. Spring fever. Saturday night fever. Fever as a wanting. Normally just think of it as a nagging plague on one’s sense of well-being. It was that too. And there are people, family, friends, and coworkers made instantly dearer than dear, all suffering shock and sorrow. So much shock that the sorrow isn’t noticeable right away. But competing and almost overtaking my desire to respect the next of kin, to in some way offer support, overtaking that was my desire to watch the video of the killing. I’m still feeling the temptation now, though it has ebbed some. Perhaps while I write. I almost watched it several times. As I surfed coverage, the murder was almost shown to me several times without my choosing to see it. I’ve seen people shot in the head before. Usually in documentaries that gave some warning. But here the Internet, including news.google.com and yahoo.com, became algorithmically-arranged minefields of chances I might see a murder on a Wednesday morning. Intentionally or inadvertently depending on which link I clicked. How did I avoid it? Am I going to give in later tonight and watch the murder in my apartment? I’ll probably always have the chance. And an article I skimmed on NPR not long ago suggests there is even an evolutionary justification for me watching the murder video. But I haven’t. The other thing I did was to deliberately post, retweet, and click Like on other things. I pushed back against the algorithmic primal sweeping hurricane force trending opportunity to watch a murder on the internet. Two murders actually. I made it a point to give my meager clicks to other things, to the coverage that doesn’t bleed and rarely leads. I spit, farted, and peed in the wind of violence made readily available. And the best video coverage, willingly passed along from murderer to media to all of us me’s, was filmed by the murderer himself. One thing I have yet to feel is any sorrow that he is gone. I’m angry a bit. And that makes it so I can’t show respect or consideration to any significant degree to his loved ones. I’m sorry for that. So maybe there is hope for me. Maybe I’ll go watch a murder. A psycho selfie. Is that a term yet? Someone has to have thought of that. Anyway, I felt like being rude just now and passing that alliteration along. I tried posting some positive things. I hope that helps in some almost certainly feeble way. People still like to say we are the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Our nation with its rampant gun violence and protection of guns. Wow. What a low opinion that is of the many countries where this type of thing does not happen nearly as often. Or so I’m told by the Internet…that makes it so easy to watch murders, to share video of them.

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