The day the world learned that the beloved but troubled comedian and actor R. Williams killed himself recently, we were bombarded with the news—and I mean bombarded. Although I loved the man’s humor (even though his frenetic mental and physical activity often wore me down), I signed off Facebook and turned off the computer. It was just too painful to hear or watch one more thing.
A few days later, it’s still hard to write out his whole name. I feel guilty adding any words to the stampede of blogs and photos showing up everywhere—a few with something meaningful to add to the discussion but most are inane and well, exploitative. With everyone being pushed to blog, blog, blog and comment, comment, comment to further their careers and get noticed, it’s no wonder there’s a flurry of nothingness.
But to profit from a tragic intentional death, after a horribly troubled life—isn’t that a bridge too far?
I can’t keep still about the fact that the fire hose of information, speculation, gossip, praying, incanting and yelling about Mr. Williams is the best example yet of how we are mangling our brains, destroying brain cells and losing some of our humanity.
I am no brain researcher, but most would agree that with too much stimulation, the brain doesn’t work as well. Some, like mine, even just shut down and refuse to take anything else in for a while. Worse than that, however, the constant repetition of headlines (and lowlines) increasingly makes me not want any news at all.
In the future, we will hear about international crises—over and over and…. Sure what’s happening anywhere in the world may be important, if not life changing. How many times can we take apart one tiny and probably doubtful fact or incident, comment on it, stomp on it, argue about it and then call it news?
I try not to complain about something without having some solution to offer. In this case, the only imaginable solution to something so out of control and getting more so, is to beg for self-restraint. No, you don’t have to comment, blog, debate, write books about every subject.
There are plenty of topics needing further analysis, discussion and debate. How about why child abuse continues to rage? How can we make the dying process more humane? Or, in this case, why aren’t there more funds to research mental illness to develop preventive measures so that perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented?
I think there’s a danger that if we don’t turn off, or at least turn down, the fire hose, we all may stop caring about anything.
‘Nuff said. Turning off computer and my contribution to fire hose. Anyone else ready to join me?