Minute by Minute

Minute by Minute


This morning, like some other mornings, I listened to the news while taking my youngest daughter to school. My parents didn’t drive me to school, but they did run the news in the car at other times. I remember how overwhelming it could be to hear about this murder, and that war. They would also watch the local and national news at night. We don’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision that we made to protect the kids, I simply have no desire to see the TV news. I do sometimes want to listen to NPR though.

Last night I tried to talk through the Paris terrorism situation with my 12-year old daughter as I drove my girls to gymnastics. She is a pretty anxious girl and I don’t want her to be made nervous about the world, but I also don’t want her to live in a bubble. I also wanted to see what the latest news was since 8000 cops were looking for the shooters.

Before I got my kids in the car this morning, I checked the news to see if the shooters had been found. It seemed they had been located. I turned on NPR as I started the car. The announcer explained that it was believed they were holed up in an industrial building near the Paris airport. “I want to emphasize that we are not sure of the facts at this point, but we will update you minute by minute and second by second.” My younger daughter was seemingly oblivious, but I know that hearing about Syrian refugees suffering in the cold and gunmen hijacking cars is probably not a good thing for her to hear. Without context it just creates fear, which is why I try not to listen to the news in the morning, especially if its more about war than the price of pork bellies.

When I got home I was tempted to check the news once again. I thought about the narrative of the live news event, which is mostly filled with repetition and waiting. It’s not all that interesting a narrative. However, when we really want to know what happens we can get wound in. Why else would millions of people have watched an ex football player drive through Los Angeles in a “low speed” car chase? My brother teaches negotiation and he talks a lot about “sunk costs”. The more time and effort we put into a negotiation,  the more invested we are in it, and the more likely we are to make a bad deal for ourselves. The same is true of these live TV dramas, the more we watch the talking heads repeat the same things with the same footage replaying in the background, the more invested we are in the conclusion. We don’t want to miss the ending because we’ve spent too much energy trying to get to it.

I’m not going to check the news. I think I’ll read about it later when all the facts are in. However, it did inspire another narrative. I want to start a film in which a news event it just breaking in the background. Some kind of standoff is taking place. I want this event to have nothing to do with the characters in the film, but I want it to be the background of their lives.

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