For better and worse, we live in a world where those who can afford it can connect to everything, big and small, that happens in the world. Moreover, this can be done in a way that makes every event, no matter how inconsequential, seem crucial to our very existence.
I got to thinking about this when they recently re-opened the Statue of Liberty to visitors. I will gladly admit that I like this statue and I also like it being a symbol of freedom for America and those who would come here. As with every national symbol lately, an inordinate amount of time and effort—read money—is being spent to protect the statue from what a visitor might do. The imagination reels when thinking of what all of those things might be, and the idea of somebody damaging this symbol is suddenly elevated to the momentous, the crucial.
But America would be no less what it is without the statue. In fact, had it never been delivered to our shores, we would be able to designate any of a thousand other important symbols to stand in for her critical place in our national psyche. And elevate them to the absolutely crucial.
In today’s news: We should not care whether a magazine noted for its irreverence puts a mass murderer’s face on the cover. It is not crucial to the state of America that they do not. Nor is it particularly crucial for their circulations figures if they do. They counted on the media jumping right in with the rest of us and making the inconsequential into something consequential.
In similar fashion, one perceived miscarriage of justice—or unexpected serving of same—will not bring our judicial system to its knees; yet we believe that the tip of the iceberg is showing and that we cannot so much as look at it or our holy Titanic will sink.
There are crucial events. They come rarely. A train blowing up in Canada and decimating a small town is one of them. This will change the way important energy reserves are distributed to users for the rest of the century!
However, I am of the opinion that the mass media would not recognize a crucial event if it jumped out of a manhole under their figurative park bench and bit them in the collective nether regions. They are too busy aiding and abetting the politicians in turning everything into a critical mass, satisfying the snooze news cycle and keeping the ratings going. Come on! People! The small city where I live with less than a million population—one that still effectively rolls up the sidewalks at night, except those in front of the meth labs and DWI checkpoints—does not have to have an Evening News—with helicopters, no less—that lasts three hours. There just simply is not enough news of that import, meth labs or no.
Whether Rowling wants to write as a man or as a woman is not going to set literature back to the stone age. Snowden getting asylum in Russia will not restart the cold war. The races will learn to live with each other without show trials. And, oh! The features on the next iPhone will not be momentous, either.