I am today, like so many in this part of the world, simply ecstatic to have seen the weather channel’s report that the president will be “monitoring the storm” from the White House. Thank goodness that the commander in chief will be WATCHING! After all, if the president is watching, he’ll redirect hurricane Sandy if things get out of hand. But most importantly I should not forget the historic, remarkable, astonishing, unusual, and altogether mind-defying nature of this particular “storm of the century.” The weather channel is right, I did take in the patio furniture yesterday to make more time to watch advertising today.
The ludicrous sensationalism of television reporting (even from something as mundane as the weather channel) of infotainment has struck a nerve for me today. I hear a lot of credible-sounding people touting Hurricane Sandy as the weather-event of their careers. This is worrisome. Yes, damage and dangerous roads, people who may not have hot or running water, or electricity in the coming days will face real challenges, but that is merely unfortunate. A deeper, sociological worry is being brought home to me. Broadcasters would rather spend their time, their money, their breath on hyping the ‘unusual’ behavior of a storm than talking about what people had ought to expect. And why is this? Because that is what most of us will most often choose to listen to. The most incredible thing is that any meteorologist, and certainly any climatologist worth his or her salt will tell you that this will not be the storm of the century, nor will its behavior be considered unusual for many more seasons. As far as career-making weather events, unless a particular broadcaster is planning to retire before next hurricane season he or she is yanking your chain. Bigger, heavier, nastier, wetter storms will be the rule in years to come, not the exception. But don’t worry, just ride this one out in your little blue box made of ticky-tacky with your eyes glued to broadcast media, and everything will be ok. Buy your placebo at the gas pump, there is no getting off the island if things turn bad.
The best news man ever to hit a screen encouraged us all to lean out the windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Today, I’m mad as hell, but I’m going to batten down the hatches. And here, indoors and dry and warm for now I’m going remember reflection, I’m going to remember closeness, and purpose, and I will shut out the wind, the rain and remember the value in that by shutting out the story. Anyone who has ever had to sleep out in a storm knows that comfort does not come from knowing what is outside, but from trusting the dry warmth you can find. So I will take some time to think of the utopias that we all hope will not have to form in hell, and know that when things are at their worst, people tend to act for their collective interest. I just hope that when they ran to the big-box stores to buy their BPA-filled containers of water and all the bread and milk they could lay their hands on, people from my neighborhood remembered how to talk about their plans and wish each other well instead of staring up at the satellite picture.