I know when I’m being an asshole, but I often don’t know why. Such was the case when I saw this tweet:
Is it me, lots of Bay Area tweeters going on about their day, tweeting stupid stuff. A plane crashed, lots of people impacted.
— Joanne Bradford (@dmjoanne) July 7, 2013
To some extent, this tweet stung me because I had just tweeted a comment about Edward Snowden. But the truth is that I don’t understand this logic at all. I feel no special kinship for the people at SFO. I’m glad that what seemed like a terrible accident resulted in so little death. But otherwise, I don’t connect with the people on that flight just because it happened within a hundred miles of me. That may well mean I’m some kind of monster. And it wouldn’t be the first time. Nor am I unable to learn, so I’m all for hearing the counterargument because I can be really clueless.
But right now, I don’t think so. The reason everyone is in an uproar about this is that the media channels are filled with it. It is, as they say, a man bites dog story. Commercial aircraft don’t crash that often. But that doesn’t make it an event that should cause all of those with a TV to stop everything else and focus on it. And note the condescending tone of the tweet: Bay Area tweeters are to be scolded because Joanne thinks this is the most important thing. So I replied, and like I said, I knew I was being an asshole:
— Frankly Curious (@CuriousFrankly) July 7, 2013
Life is, in fact, a vale of tears. We all pick what we fret over. You know what I fret over most? What I lose sleep over? Suicides. More than anything else, that’s it. Of course, that has impacted me far more directly than most other things. But the point is not what most bothers me. It is that I don’t have the right to tut-tut others because they don’t share my concerns. In the grand scheme of things, malaria is a far bigger problem than suicide, which is a far bigger problem than plane crashes. And God bless those people who are deeply involved in this particular crash. But that personal involvement doesn’t make them better than other people. Just different.
I think that when there is large scale media attention to a news story, people think that makes it objectively important. But the biggest problems that we face, the greatest unnecessary sufferings, are not covered at all because they go on day after day and year after year. Should I go around every day chastising every person I see smiling, “How can you smile when 50 people killed themselves with guns today?!” That would be absurd. How is it different in this case when I am 100 miles away and only know about it from twitter traffic?
But as I said, I am open to being educated on the matter. After all, if a plane crashed across the street from me, it would affect me greatly. And I’m not sure what the difference is because I don’t need to see suffering to care about it. Then again, I do care about the people at SFO. I just think it is wrong to complain that other people don’t care enough about what you care about.
But I knew that I was being an asshole when I tweeted that. And I should have stayed the hell out of it. I am not at my best in 140 characters. But sometimes the urge is just too strong. And you tweet your crotch.