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CNN Isn't Real Life.

I wish I could frame something coherent, and thoughtful, and sympathetic around what those poor kids at Virginia Tech experienced this week. I can't.

I was a college kid in an era where we thought everything was happening for the first time, and that we were on the edge of anarchy and mayhem. A stinking rotten war a half world away, violence at Altamont, kids shot by National Guardsmen at Kent State, a bloody riot at the Chicago convention -- all these felt so dangerous, so horrible, so on the edge of death and forever.

But what most of us were exposed to was not at the level of what these poor kids experienced -- and there was significant distance from the violence.

Believe me, it was a hard, bad time. There were plenty of kids killed in the jungle, at the raceway, on the grass in Ohio and in the streets of Chicago.

But we didn't live it, and relive it, and watch it over and over, and pull it up on our computer screens and drown in it in the immediacy of 24/7 coverage the way we are now.

And it makes me sadder than I can express that we now have such intimate familiarity with a mad killer who managed to slaughter 32 of his peers.

I am so sorry. And so sickened by what life can be. And I need to remember this reality isn't the only reality there is.

CNN is not real life. I just can't accept that we're seeing is a truthful representation of life, our life, this American life.

I hope we find a way to somehow understand this kid, his miserable existence and the damage his pain caused him to cause.


Blogger Doug said...

You bring back a memory of mine and make it poignant. I remember as a little boy being told we're at war and looking out the window wondering why I couldn't see the warplanes.

1:28 PM

Blogger actonbell said...

This is very coherent and thoughtful.

Doug's comment brings another memory back to me: I was a young child during Vietnam, too, and I remember seeing a picture in Newsweek magazine that would become very famous. It was the image of a little girl, crying, arms fanned out, running. She was naked, I understood, because she'd been burned. This little girl was my age--we were born during the same summer. I was watching Saturday morning cartoons, while she was directly injured by a war I knew nothing about and running for her life.

It's impossible to understand. As some of the victims' families said, it's a "hopeless, helpless, and lost" feeling.

9:58 AM

Blogger mireille said...

Oh, that picture. Next to the one of the Vietnamese officer shooting a man in the head, I remember that one most vividly. xoxo

10:17 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

No, CNN is not real life. When I was a girl, if a kid in Dallas got killed, we didn't hear about it in TN. Now, if anything happens anywhere, we hear of it immediately, and we FEAR that it will happen HERE! NOW!

I'm not down playing what happened in W.VA. That would be news any time, anywhere. But it is so over played 24/7 that instead of making us think, it makes us numb. Numb to the next event, unless it's bigger and more horrid.

6:17 PM

Blogger ariel said...

you write it so good, "we thought everything was happening for the first time", I am not American but I know that feeling very well, when you grow up in a world where violance's showing up in your own everyday life is as shocking as surprising.

good writing!

5:06 AM

Blogger Doug said...

CNN sure isn't real life. It's updated every few minutes.

10:52 AM


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