It’s been a week since the Orlando massacre. The national media is still hanging around our city, The City Beautiful. But I wonder how long they’ll stay. What will be the next big thing to steal the spotlight in the never-ending media cycle? Pretty soon they’ll take away their satellite trucks, their reporters, and their location-focused shots.
Then we’ll be left to pick up the pieces by ourselves. It isn’t the first tragedy to receive 24-7 media attention. It won’t be the last. Tragedies drive ratings and the networks and news stations know where their bread is buttered. But when the Attention Deficit Disorder of the American public and the national media flicks away from Orlando there will soon be another obsession.
We don’t live our lives inside the television. We live our lives in the real world. That means we have to continue to care, love, bring compassion, and share peace long after the world’s attention is focused elsewhere. It means that we’re not just dealing with images on a screen, we’re dealing with people who have feelings, who hurt, who care, and who need attention.
It’s so tempting to be superficial in a world with such a short attention span. But we can do better. We must do better.
Here’s how we can care more deeply when we’re tempted not to:
- Turn off the TV more often. It’s meant to be sensational and it often distracts your attention from the things that really matter. You’re better off limiting your viewing.
- Focus on the people in front of you. Here in Orlando it seems like everyone is impacted by last week’s events in one way or another. We may be 3 or more degrees removed from those who were immediately involved. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t others who are questioning, hurting, and crying. We can focus on those who need help in our own sphere of influence.
- Listen. In the last week I have found myself trying to listen more deeply. When I’m out in public I try to actually hear what people are saying. It helps me to be more empathetic not only with them, but with the people I know and those with whom I have more frequent face time.
Though we so often find our faces in screens, to truly care we have to put them down more often. Though the media is often superficial, we need not be. We can listen to stories, pay attention, love more deeply, and look into people’s eyes.
In a superficial world, how do you show you care?