I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts and Tweets the past several weeks (I mean, really, when you think about it, probably the last several years, but for all intents and purposes let’s just say weeks for now) with the general message of: “If only people spent as much time caring about what’s happening in the world as they do: Miley Cyrus, North West, Ben Affleck, Baby George, fill in the blank with whatever big name you’d like. If only people weren’t superficial asses who didn’t think about everything happened around them. If only people stopped being selfish. If only.
But it’s not really that simple — it never is. And I’m here to defend that point.
We are bombarded every day in Facebook and the Yahoo! homepage and CNN.com and BuzzFeed and Twitter about death and destruction and desolation. Pre-dating all those websites, horrible news was often avoidable, but it isn’t any longer, so unless Tweeters are referring specifically to individuals who are without the internet and newspaper subscriptions or, you know, the general American teenager, we know what’s happening. And it’s horrible and it makes us anxiety-ridden and it makes us cry sometimes and it makes us yell because we’re trying to figure out what in the heck is going on outside our front doors that makes us think maybe going outside isn’t really worth it. Maybe agoraphobes have had it right since the beginning. And then it’s all we can do to not lay down on the living room floor and weep for all the women and children, for the people who have lost their lives when they didn’t need to in the first place, for the corrupt governments that sprawl out across the globe.
Sometimes we need Ben Affleck to be cast as Batman. Sometimes we need to know how British royalty are doing. Sometimes we crave fluff stories about Kim Kardashian’s secret wedding. Sometimes we don’t think it’s necessary or even appropriate at times to fill our Facebook News Feeds or Twitter feeds with bad news that inevitably makes us feel worse and that everyone else is generally aware of because they’re seeing it too, in their own respective ways.
I assure you, I’m aware of what’s happening in Syria, and it scares me for more than one reason. We’re all watching things unravel with you, so don’t accuse us of not caring because we care so much that it renders us paralyzed.