It’s never a good thing when you wake up to incessant buzzing on your cell phone. This is especially true when it forces you to get up a lot sooner than expected. Yet this is how Friday, July 20, started (note to self: find a way to unplug from technology that includes turning off your phone).
My phone continued to buzz. I groggily fumble around to find it. Pick it up. Stare at it for about two seconds before realizing what I’m reading.
Breaking News: 11 dead, dozens of others injured in Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.
Breaking News: Gunman walks into Aurora, Colorado movie theater during Batman movie and opens fire, killing several people.
Similar messages are popping up on my phone. It won’t stop buzzing with updates. My sleepiness is gone. I immediately call my parents to make sure my relatives in Aurora are safe. Lemme tell you— that six degrees of separation thing is real (it’s the game you play with movie stars…try to connect Michael Douglas to Samuel L. Jackson). Knowing people personally connected to the events in Colorado, or any other tragedy, weighs heavy on you. It put me in a daze. I think I went through Friday in a shocked state.
I followed the story all morning and afternoon. Then came the hard part: going to work. Maybe the hardest part of my job is to report on something this devastating. Anytime someone loses a family member to something like this…is terrible. You think reporters WANT to cover these types of stories? Think we enjoy trying to find family members and jamming a microphone in their face to ask them, “how do you feel?” It’s awful. You never get used to it. I completely understand why a family member wouldn’t want to talk to the media. Too tough to talk about.
The images we all saw on television were even tougher to see. Grieving family members. People being rushed to the hospital. Others covered in blood standing in horror.. How could something that’s supposed to bring people together, actually drive us apart? Movies are used for inspiration, relaxation, and enjoyment.. They’re supposed to make us think, laugh, and feel good. This incident instead, left many of us scared.
Unnerved. Sad. I understand the need for security at the airport (seeing police carry machine guns at London Heathrow when you’re young really opens your eyes). But I never imagined we would need a police presence for a movie. Yet that’s now a reality.
Then of course, the gun debates started. You knew it was only a matter of time. I just didn’t believe it would be this soon. The incident in Aurora was the lightning rod. That may have been what frustrated me the most in all the coverage. This tragic incident was being politicized for an argument over guns. The topic is polarizing as it is... but you mean to tell me that we (the media—especially some of the cable outlets) couldn’t WAIT? We couldn’t give families the time they needed to try to make sense of what happened before all the name calling started? Come on. We need to be better than that. We may never understand why something like this happened.
But let’s not turn a tragic event into a pie-fighting contest and start blaming each other. In times like these we have to come together—not move even further to the left or the right. The idealism in me
says, “if everyone would take a minute to think that we are all connected in some way, shape, or form—things like this wouldn’t happen.” Sadly, that isn’t reality.
In light of everything…I went to see “The Dark Knight Rises” Saturday. I couldn’t enjoy myself, though. My mind was wandering. Not worrying that something like was going to happen…but sad that it did. My own wants got in the way of what was right—not to go.