Do we live in a great country, or what? We have over 280 million people, all with their own lives to lead, problems to address, victories and defeats, struggles of adversity, sorrow, and shear madness.
And yet, if one of our beloved citizens goes missing, we still take the time to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the desparate search (at least if it is a good-looking white female).
You would think that everybody in our country is accounted for except Natalie. How else do you explain the obsession with her dissappearance, and the networks tripping over each other trying to report whatever unsubstantiated rumor passes for news.
Fox News has been pitiful in all this. In the course of the last two days, they've gone from "she's missing" to "she's been murdered", to "Suspects to lead us to her body", to "Suspects confess to murder". Then they backed off to "Suspects confess to something BAD". Tonight they are back to "Search for Holloway continues". I guess when you know absolutely nothing, and there is almost nothing NEW to report, the best way to be "fair and BALANCED" is to present all possible outcomes as if they have happened. "We make it up, you decide which one you like the best".
But frankly, getting the story wrong isn't really as big a deal in this case as HAVING THE STORY AT ALL. I relate a sad story from my own county, Prince William, Va., starting from last September.
A woman with some personality disorders walked a mile from her home to a local store. On her way back home, she decided to cut through the woods. This happened last september. But the woods were terribly overgrown, and she got lost. She had a cell phone, and called a relative to say she was lost, and tried to describe where she was.
Now, I don't remember hearing this story last september. I know the place this happened, as I used to live within a mile of the store. And I am pretty good at hacking my way through impassable underbrush. And I like to help people.
Anyway, there was some attempt apparently to find her, but they gave up. I think because of her mental problems, maybe it was assumed she had just wandered off. Anyway, in March the police ran a dog search training exercise, and decided to take a shot at finding her again. They did find her body, about 100 yards from several houses. They needed a bulldozer to clear the brush to get to her body. The closest homeowner said they had never heard of her missing, and would have been glad to search.
I've got to think that stories like this happen all the time, all around the country. I be right now there is someone missing in every county in america. And to the degree that all of us are wasting our time watching the news for the latest on a missing girl in Aruba, we aren't being informed of people who might have gotten lost in our own neighborhoods and communities, even though THESE are the stories for which we might actually be helpful.
I am convinced that if I had known of my fellow citizen last september, I could have found her, or at least tried. And I'm convinved many people would do the same in their own towns, just as I'm pretty sure none of us are going to get on a plane to fly to Aruba to look for Natalie, or were inclined to drive to Georgia to find Jennifer Wilbanks (the runaway bride).
I made a reference to a white woman up above, but that really isn't the point. Bill O'Reilly once pointed out that he had the story of two minority girls who were missing, and frankly having THREE national stories of missing children isn't any better than one.
We are connected, in fact WAY TOO CONNECTED, to the world we live in. We get worked up over events that are happening far away from us. These are not trivial events, and we should get worked up, but since something (many things) are happening every day that are bad, the fact that we are now able to be inundated by news from around the world, and that the news invariably reports all the horror stories from around the world, means that we are confronted like never before with pain and suffering.
And the News Media plays on our natural empathy with those who are suffering, with background interviews and coverage designed to get us emotionally involved in stories, so we will hang on through the commercials.
I think this barrage of bad news takes an emotional toll on us. I think it breeds a sense of hopelessness which is unwarranted. Of course there is nothing any of us can do about the girl in Aruba, or Amy Lynn Bradley (IF you don't know who this is, you unfortunately might know by tomorrow). But we CAN do something about people missing in our own back yards, if we are TOLD about them.