Did you ever notice that, when the news media shows a picture of a criminal on TV, you automatically see them as one? We may think or mutter to ourselves, ‘humph–he LOOKS like a criminal!’
However, if the same face is on the news and the commentators are praising him to the skies for running into a burning building to save a toddler and his puppy, we think, ‘wow–what a hero!’ After hearing that, he LOOKS like a hero to us.
It’s the same face. What makes the difference between viewing him as a criminal or a hero? Although much of it is perception, I’d say the bulk of what we believe is what we hear. If I hear and see someone whom the media is damning for a criminal, that’s how I see him. The converse of course is true; if touted as a hero, a hero is what I see.
It is fair? Probably not, but there it is. I read once that if crabs could talk, and you picked one up and said, ‘you crabs are all alike; you all even look the same.’ The crab would probably reply indignantly, ‘not so! I am special, unique and different from all other crabs! Just look at the green spots on my claws; have you ever seen such a beautiful design?’
No matter that each and every crab has the same pattern of green spots; this individual crab would protest how different and special he is. (Sounds a lot like people, doesn’t it?)
Our media today is honed to such a fine point that we can nearly see a crime before it happens. Policemen and women are wearing body cameras now, there are drones who can gawk into our lives at any time, there are security cameras everywhere, and anyone who has a cell phone can snap pictures or take videos of live action at any time.
It’s interesting to speculate on what exactly makes a criminal a criminal and a hero a hero. Our hearts are warmed when we see videos of dads or moms returning from the armed forces and surprising their children at school. We love our heroes. But our hearts turn sour when we see or hear of someone who has committed a heinous crime or hurt another person.
We usually don’t know these people, so we cannot make an honest judgement. But remember that the job of news media is to not just impart the latest information, but to shape it in the most sensational way possible to get and hold our attention. I call it the “dancing bunny *conundrum; i.e., ‘watch the dancing bunny while I distract you from what is REALLY going on.’
While we are getting wound up over things for which we can do nothing, there is real life to be lived, real situations where we can help, and real people with which to interact. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying harder to ‘get real’ these days.
Wish me luck!
1: a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun
2: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer, or an intricate and difficult problem