A Black Bag

This is going to be exceedingly short. I’m trying to keep writing through the noise.  Lately the feed seems pretty relentless. It seems like terrible is the new black.

My heart goes out to the people of Boston and to all the people of the world especially those who were there to participate in one of our most democratic sporting events or to cheer the runners on. My heart goes out to the people of North and South Korea, to the people of West, Texas, to the people of Syria, to today’s victims of gun violence. I could go on.

I have lots of thoughts about Boston bombings, especially in light of social media and the news coverage. I don’t watch any news off the television anymore, pulling it instead from Google News, Twitter, AP, Reuters, The Guardian, the LA and NY Times (at least until I hit their paywall). 

It seems that, with the Boston bombings, the old school model of journalism is collapsing into something else. The Boston marathon is one of the most highly recorded events. And now millions of people, in Boston and around the world, are connected to this story through the internet. We can all see the videos and pictures and we all get to wade through a sea of conflicting facts as the story emerges. There are already truthers and conspiracy theories. And then there’s the edgy crowd sourcing of the visual evidence by interested parties such as Redditors and 4Chan. This kind of event seems suited to the large cooperative effort of a crowd. But a crowd is just a mob in a good mood and it’s hard not to feel that we stand on the very precipice of vigilantism – especially if you read the comments section at the bottom of, let’s just say, any article. 

From Gawker’s: Your Guide to The Boston Marathon BombingAmateur Internet Crowd-Sleuthing

How is our world different when we are all witnesses to an act of mayhem like this? By witnessing, are we driven to participate in a solution or to tell ourselves that’s what we’re doing when we’re online? These questions are the stuff of a much longer post, but one that will have to wait since I’m working on a story that needs to be finished. 

And that’s more important, because I believe in the healing power of art, and in the subversive nature of literature, to speak truth to the dark powers of chaos that sometimes look like they might swallow us whole.

It’s hard to write through this stuff. But writing stories is what I do, so that’s what I must do. You can bet I’ll keep watching the news because what happens out in the world will need to be inside my next story.

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