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Up to the Minute

"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

Published before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

When my great-grandmother was a young girl, the black clouds of a bad fire rolled across their home town in West Virginia. Five days later they learned that Chicago had burned. It took five days to learn of the “Great Chicago Fire.”

What a contrast to today’s instant coverage of global events. In the early 90’s the earthquake that struck California during baseball’s Oakland-San Francisco World Series was viewed simultaneously around the world. When hurricanes Florence and Michael hit the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle this year, Americans watched hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute, looking for “I’m Safe” notifications from friends and family on Facebook.

Today we are so continually barraged with the latest news and up-to-the-minute instant coverage of events that we can practically participate as spectators to holocausts and disasters wherever they occur, as it happens. Twitter feeds and news feeds provide us breaking news before it even breaks on the news. Twitter’s power was instantly demonstrated during the 2008 Mumbai massacre when someone began tweeting the story even before CNN knew it was happening.

Another area of up-to-the-minute distraction has to do with what celebrities are doing, this week, this day or this minute. More than a few articles have been written about our our unhealthy obsession with celebrities. Whether pulled over for drunk driving or lying on a deathbed waiting for the end, the buzz is instant and everywhere.

Strangely enough, while we pride ourselves on staying up-to-the-minute on all these people and events, we often become woefully out of touch with significant others in our lives. Doesn’t it seem bizarre that we sometimes know more about today’s happenings in the Middle East or New York or Hollywood than what happened with our own children in school today? We hear endless analyses of the President’s antics and actions while our own spouse’s daily self-sacrifices are ignored or taken for granted.

Our relationship to the world we live in has been distorted by the capabilities of modern communications. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of those around us. Our friends and families have needs that you won’t find covered in the news, but which are no less real than the fires, hurricanes and flood — or elections — taking place elsewhere.

Enough said.


Originally published at ennyman.com.