A Pornographic Life
Definition: “pornography” – the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction
The headlines were sure to come. So too were the media pathetic fallacies, the Facebook self-effacing propheteers and the inane politicos pontificating on the man-made measures sure to prevent future tragedies. It always seems to happen when some earth shattering story hits the news. Every story angle is covered, and it’s done hour after hour, day after day, until media ratings slips or people simply lose interest, whichever happens first. Yes, I write of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 20 children murdered, along with 6 adults, all women, apparently school staff, an apparent lone gunman, one Adam Lanza, age 20 who shot himself as emergency workers rushed to the scene, and his mother, who he murdered previous to his rampage apparently in her sleep. Of course, it’s not simply that 28 people died, it’s how they did. What tragedy, what sympathy for the victims we’re repeatedly cajoled to evoke. How we’re called upon to attend to the stories.
The statistics have been quick to follow as well. There’s no shortage of that when, as the news media keeps pummeling viewers and readers in their shock and awe, answers are grasped like one last saving rope from falling into the abyss. Even churches get into the act, and I do mean act. I had occasion to experience that firsthand. Before the church service began, solemn music was played in the background while the pastor spoke in subdued tones, in nondescript terms, all the while clearly making allusions to The News Event. Everyone has something to say because everyone has thoughts on the matter, and of course thoughts, even from some of the most mindless people who effuse them, should be respected, particularly during this time of grieving. People can say the darnedest things. Even the grieving isn’t private. Images of the crying and sorrowful flood the plethora of media, appealing to the salacious servitude of the masses. Indeed, the mental and emotional feedings come hour by hour as we’re told to stand by for continuing developments in an event which took place days ago and is over.
I am all things skeptical to the ways and means of humanity, and it may appear to make this disrespectful to the memories of those passed, but it’s not the tragedy itself, it’s the incessant talk and writings about the tragedy. It’s Job’s friends multiplied several times over. They would be pleased. There’s even talk about all the talk of it. The response to all this would be to simply shut up. Silence IS golden, but Job’s friends also know that nature abhors a vacuum. In the midst of the onslaught there seems little for one person to do but to cordon off their own mind as a domain impervious to this sensational insanity. It is possible to pick and choose one’s sensationalism. Few have been astonished by 53 million children murdered for convenience before their first birthday, let alone their sixth or seventh. But then we’re implored to the conscientiousness of just 20 because they were, well, children.
Cruel and heartless as it may sound, the dead are gone, and the vultures are feeding, though on the carcases of the living. The mad hatters and media whores are the cruel and heartless who press their way into the lives of people through the various and sundry avenues of communication. Even church leaders and pastors, who just had to alter their Sunday morning sermons to address the present condition of their congregants. “You have to address it – you have to turn everything you had planned upside down on Friday because that’s where people’s hearts are,” Max Lucado says. Really? Why? Is it what God would want or is it leveraging a tragedy for emotional benefit in the moment? Or perhaps God allowed the killings when He did in part so that Sunday sermons would be altered. Again, color me skeptical, because I’m silly enough to believe God doesn’t need tragedies and catastrophes to draw people to Himself. Anyone who needs some answers to the “why” should search their own soul.
The term “pornography” is often used to describe deviance of a sexual nature, but in the media saturation little escapes attention. Effects of devotion to sexual pornography become distinguishable in time. Human beings become shells of themselves, living from one sensational overload to the next. Like an addiction, the next fix needs to be higher, better and more satisfying than the last. The event at Sandy Hook Elementary was truly a tragedy, but it’s become another fix in the addiction. All the commentary, media coverage, talk and writing surrounding the event is simply more pornography in a pornographic life. It is the pornography of issues. The pornography of caring and concern. Even the pornography of grief. In post-christian America the religion of convenience is sensationalism or emotionalism. Each controversy, each tragedy, natural or man-made, is distorted out of all proportion, as people using media to their aid distort the true nature of life’s events.