At 6:30, I was just wrapping up my workday and heading out for dinner with a friend when the following IM exchange began:
Friend: “Did you hear about the murder over here at Yale? I think it’s been all over the news.”
Me: “No! I’m not watching TV this week. What happened?”
Friend: “My friend in Austria heard about it…”
It was a bit disconcerting to have the person that was impacted by the bad thing be the one telling me that it happened. Any other week, I’d likely have heard about it already and had been on the phone to her making sure that she was OK. Being taken out of the loop of friendship/support by virtue of not watching the news was a bit of a shocker. Also, apparently Patrick Swayze kicked the bucket. Who knew? (Well, everyone but me – it seemed.)
This made me think about another friend of mine who had surgery and was barely conscious for about two weeks after 9/11. Her lack of involvement in the media frenzy to follow has provided for a fairly fascinating outsider experience. She missed the shock of the moment of impact, the confusing hours of not knowing what was happening, the terror and the panic — and she missed the wide-eyed societal bonding that came to pass over the weeks that followed as we all sat glued to our respective TV Sets, soaking in the graphic images and the endless hours of repetitive journalism. Of course, she’s seen the images now, and heard others’ experiences, but not having been present in the actual moment means she’ll never really know that sort of connection with the folks who did. It also gives her a different viewpoint, and an innate objectivity about the political ramifications that were to follow.
Granted, my missing a celebrity death and a campus murder are not even remotely to scale with the enormous shared experience that was 9/11 — but it’s interesting to think about what a life without instant access to developing news actually means for a person in terms of relatability on a daily basis. This continues to be an interesting week.