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The ebb and flow of big news events is a part of life - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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The ebb and flow of big news events is a part of life

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Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:00 am

Sometimes news can be overwhelming. But there’s a big difference between overwhelming and downright devastating.

So while we may get depressed and frustrated with an oil well that just keeps gushing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we need to keep such events in perspective.

Sure, we’ll be feeling the effects of BP’s careless drilling practices for years.

But just think back to Sept. 11, 2001, and try to remember the emotions that you felt when all those unbelievable events unfolded before all our eyes.

The attacks unleashed every emotion from hatred to fear to helplessness.

The scenes of a couple of the tallest towers in the world melting and collapsing were a lot more graphic and frightening that those we’ve seen during the futile attempts to stop the flow of oil from the crippled well and the fouled beaches.

And when you consider the images of people plummeting to the ground as they fled the World Trade Center inferno, the oil problem seems almost manageable.

Of course, as time passes the emotions are a little easier to accept.

This is not unique to current generations. Our predecessors had an event that offered perspective as well. But at least they didn’t have to see the attack on Pearl Harbor as it happened. They got the news by radio and saw the actual footage later in newsreels.

But perhaps that’s why we find ourselves so obsessed when a hurricane destroys a city like it did New Orleans. Or when an airplane crashes and kills scores of passengers. In today’s world, somebody always is there to capture the horrors with a video recorder, camera or even a cell phone. Plus, we have all those 24-hour cable television channels to get it in your home or office almost instantly.

So, yeah, breaking news is bound to have more impact today. It’s shocking when the son of the police chief of a major city is involved in a shooting that leaves three dead. And we’re absorbed when it turns out that the chief’s son killed an apparent innocent bystander and a police officer responding to the shooting before being killed himself in a hail of bullets.

But give it a few days and that will fade. After all, there’s no one to put to trial in that case, so the shock value amounts to the proverbial 15 minutes of infamy.

We’ll have the oil spill front and center as long as it remains front-page news. But it probably will be less remembered in history than that whole ordeal with O.J. Simpson.

Yes, the oil spill and its effects affected a lot more people than a former football player being accused of murder.

But how many folks, other than those directly affected, are still haunted by the horrific events dealt by Hurricane Katrina? See, that devastation has been relegated by the passage of time.

Instant reaction to a continuing string of often bizarre news events tends to be seem bigger than time will merit. These days, we generally live for the moment. Then the moment passes, and we’re thinking about the next big thing

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