After World War II, when the world finally realized that all of the rumors they had been hearing about the Holocaust were true, there was shock and horror. This reaction was not just to the horrors that were uncovered – the concentration camps, the open burials, the crematoriums – but it was also to the fact that people had been describing these things. People had come to countries like the US and said “help us!” And no one did help. Not until they were affected. And so the phrase “Never again” was born.
Yesterday, Chris Brogan talked about how attention will matter in 2011. Attention will matter, but I think attention needs to matter beyond the boundaries of Jim Kukral’s book.
You see, for me, a lot of the tragedies that have happened lately are all about attention or a lack thereof. Tyler Clementi died both because people did pay attention to the webcam video his roommate sent out into the world and because people didn’t pay attention to how Tyler was being affected. Simone Beck did not get help because people paid the wrong kind of attention or didn’t pay attention at all.
And then you have this:
People are paying a lot of attention to this now. Some people are saying that Sarah Palin is to blame for the shooting at Gabrielle Giffords’ event in Arizona yesterday.
Nobody is paying attention.
The truth is that this map was released in March of 2010! It’s almost a year old. I was not aware of it till now. I wasn’t paying attention. Did you know about it before now?
It’s irresponsible, in these unsure and violent times, to post something with gun targets and peoples’ names. Plain and simple. Somebody should have told Ms. Palin that this was inappropriate. If individual college students have the power to force people to suicide, what can powerful people like Palin, Obama, Pelosi, ,Boehner, and others do to influence people via online communications? Are we paying attention to this?
Do I think we can draw a quid pro quo between this year-old map and the shootings that happened yesterday? Not right away. But Social Media is reporting that there is a connection. It’s all Sarah Palin’s fault. Let’s dump her and the shooter down the drain and move on. “Never again!” We’ll shout.
But if we do that, we are still not paying attention. And never again will happen again.
It’s easy to get upset
This morning I awaken to details about the 9 year-old girl who was killed yesterday. So promising. So full of life. There was no crosshair on her face. When events like this happen, it is easy for us to jump on to sites like Twitter and Facebook and say “never again.” Or something like it.
But really what we need to do is pay more attention.
We need to pay attention to each other. We need to pay attention to cries for help. We need to pay attention to loud voices that suddenly become quiet. And yes, we need to pay attention to our leaders. Who is guiding them through the dos and donts of Social Media? Who is reminding them that everyone can see what they are saying? Who is reminding them that some unstable person maybe clinging to every word?
We need to pay attention. Let’s have that as our cry this time. And then let’s do something about it. Let’s monitor our leaders’ websites and Twitter accounts. Let’s help stave off backlash after backlash.
Let’s pay attention.