Letter from the Editor: Just Clicking Through?

Don't mind me. Just clicking through.

Some random musings as we trade hurricanes for the holidays:

* In early October, former U. S. Representative Steve Israel of New York wrote a New York Times column about why he believed the Las Vegas shootings would change nothing as far as gun control. One of the reasons, he said, lay with the readers of his piece:

“You’ve become inoculated. You’ll read this essay and others like it, and turn the page or click another link. You’ll watch or listen to the news and shake your head, then flip to another channel or another app. This horrific event will recede into our collective memory.’’

That passage has haunted me ever since—not necessarily related to the gun control debate but what it says about our attention span. We are horrified by a tragedy but not for long, because it’s quickly replaced by another. For instance, as I write this, Puerto Rico continues to suffer mightily in the wake of Hurricane Maria, with only 16 percent of the territory having regained power three weeks after the storm hit. But its plight was suddenly overtaken in the news by the Las Vegas massacre, which then was replaced by the wildfires in Northern California.

Our hopscotching seems inevitable. But our distraction is also understandable, especially considering who occupies the White House. Donald Trump’s "what did he say today?" Twitter feed continues to be a source of astonishment daily as he fires off his own scattershot musings. For example, as this issue goes to press, he has just told Puerto Rico that FEMA, the military and first responders can’t stay there “forever.’’

Something else I picked up in my daily quest for information overload: Seventy percent of voters surveyed in a recent Quinnipiac poll say the president should stop tweeting.

* In the hours before Hurricane Irma drew closer to Central Florida, I jotted down storm preparation regrets to pass the time. “Things I Wish I Had Remembered” included buying more D batteries (even though I had two dozen); ordering a homemade cake or pie from Sister Honey’s bakery; stocking up on Oreos, ice cream and Sky Bars; saving more water jugs to fill with tap water; and checking my old clock radio earlier to discover it used what appeared to be a watch battery, not AAs. “Things I’m Glad I Had’’ included a battery-operated phone charger ordered at the last minute from Amazon; Bulleit Bourbon; battery-operated fans left over from the 2004 storms; a 16-piece chicken combo from Popeye’s drive-thru; a freezer packed to the gills with ice; and the wisdom not to walk out into 80 mph winds to record a video. How would you revise your prep list for next time?

* Okay, now that we’ve addressed misery, let’s turn to the inspirational—namely, this issue, featuring stories about local performers from writers Joseph Hayes, Cheri Henderson, Michael McLeod and Megan Stokes, with stunning images by photo editor Roberto Gonzalez. These local luminaries deliver the world of arts and entertainment to us through music, theater, dance and more, and you’ll enjoy meeting them. Also inspiring: Henderson’s profile of former television news anchor Secily Wilson, who turned misfortune into an empowering voice for disadvantaged women. Plus we look at cool barbershops, review new Mexican hotspot Reyes Mezcaleria and profile a Zamboni driver. If you don’t know what that last one is, you might be, in the words of late comedy great Don Rickles, a hockey puck.


Categories: Column