I'm sitting here in Argentina, landlocked, about as far away from the seismically active Ring of Fire as a person can get. I am not directly affected by the destruction on the other side of the world, so I watch the news.
And I can't help but wonder when we'll stop talking about Japan.
Every media outlet is reporting every new shake of the ground, showing photos of bodies being pulled from the rubble and posting videos of enormous waves engulfing the coast of Sendai.
But when will we forget?
When is the last time Haiti made the front page? Have the effects of last year's quake been mitigated? Is Chile fine? Indonesia? Peru? What about New Zealand? The earthquake in Christchurch happened less than a month ago and are we still talking about it?
Yes, some people still are. In fact, my list of to-do for this week includes preparing two blog posts for Matador Life about Christchurch for Blog4NZ, a grassroots blogger effort to bring support to the area. Pisco Sin Fronteras, a Peruvian volunteer force set up through Burners Without Borders, continues to work to fix the damage from the 2007 earthquake that destroyed 80% of the area.
But you don't see it in the news.
What do we see in the news?
Last night, one of the Matador team e-mailed around a video of a woman, supposedly from some religous group, thanking God for the earthquake. Apparently, they prayed for a sign from God to teach the athiests of the world a lesson.Personally, I think this video is a hoax. That doesn't make it any less disgusting.
And I am proud to say that Matador, without hesitation decided not to post the video even though it was on the cusp of going viral. Even though publicizing it could have brought in huge hits and publicity for Matador. We would have been the first to post it but said no.
Since last night, Gawker published it as have other media outlets. I'm proud to say that I'm part of a media organization with integrity.
What does Gawker hope to gain by posting this video? Is it helpful? Does it bring attention to a story that people need to hear? Is there any reason the people of the United States need to watch a video in which a young woman goes on and on about how happy she is for the destruction we're seeing all over the news?
It reminds me of how after September 11, as two massive plumes of smoke poured upward from the once World Trade Center, we heard reports of people all over the Middle East dancing and celebrating. The news reports, too, remind me of that time. It brings back painful memories.
It makes me sad and anxious. It pisses me off badly.
Yesterday, my friend Mike Lynch, who lives in Okinawa, posted wildlife photos he's taken in Japan. He posts them because he cannot look anymore and urges that we all wait patiently as rescue efforts continue and Japan takes stock of the damage done.
What Japan doesn't need, I can tell you. They don't need Uncle Bill cleaning out his yard sale collection to send over as a charitable donation. They don't need some major pharmaceutical company to write off a big donation of drugs with an expiration date of next month. And they don't need anymore news reporters, cameramen, travel writers or anybody else going after the big story.
No more gawkers.
I think that says it all. Mike goes on to say:
We need to let those on the scene do their work without clogging up their transportation and logistical systems. They will ask for help where and when it is needed.
It is human nature to show sympathy and want to help those in distress, I know. I want to help, too. We just have to be patient if we really want to help. Wait.
I only hope by that time, the rest of the world hasn't moved onto something else.
Photo by jchong