We Are All Broadcasters

Back in the early1960’s, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement marchersthe world watched as violence and hatred played out every night on TV.  A few years later, we watched the horrors of the Vietnam War taking place on the other side of the globe, from the comfort of our living rooms. Those broadcasts made an indelible mark on me at the time, growing up in my fairly sheltered life in suburbia.  They opened my eyes to the world and I took it all in.

Yesterday, a tragic bombing occurred during the Boston Marathon that took the lives of three people and injured dozens more.  Seconds, after the first of the two bombs went off, everyone who was connected to the Internet, immediately knew what had happened, regardless of where they were in the world.  Photos, video and sound recordings went viral – globally and instantly.  Along with the “bonified” news broadcasts transmitted in real time, rumor and speculation spread instantly as well.

In the 50 plus years that have gone by since those early days of “live” news coverage, bringing “awareness” into our homes, technology continues to impact our lives in a profound way.  We are connected globally and there’s no turning back that clock.  We are no longer isolated from what is taking place anywhere and everywhere on the planet.

We are all collective participants. We can tweet, blog, post images and video on Facebook and numerous other social media platforms without really needing anyone’s validation, permission or vetting whatsoever.  Think of the power in that.  It gives everyone a voice on a global scale.  But along with that comes responsibility. It used to be that if you saw something written in a newspaper or heard it on the evening nightly news on TV, it was true and you could believe it.  But now what do we do?  How can we decipher and determine what we see and hear online is true and accurate? Ultimately, we need to make those judgments ourselves.

I’ve been thinking about this all morning, and I can only hope that as we become more connected through technology, that we start to embrace our similarities as human beings, instead of being split apart by our differences.  For those of us who are documenting the world through images and video, whether professionally or not, we are broadcasting on a global scale, on a daily basis.  Think about the power of that and the responsibility.


When “We” Became “Me”

It started happening after JFK was assassinated, followed by Martin Luther King’s death and finally the brutal slaying of JFK’s brother, Robert in the kitchen of a hotel in Los Angeles.  We were beginning to shift from a culture of “we” that began after the troops came back from the “big war – WWII” and everyone wanted to get back to normal life – having families, friends, and earn enough money to take a vacation every year, pay your bills and be able to educate your kids so that they would have a chance at a better life.

I was a kid in the fifties and it was a time when there was a real sense of community – definitely a “we” feeling in many ways.  Our backyards all connected into one big play field for all the kids in the neighborhood with the “woods” being the un-chartered territory beyond. We ran free, till dark, feeling like our own tribe of “we” with our own set of rules. Everyone pretty much looked out for one another –parents looked out for their neighbors’ kids, kids watched out for other kids, moms helped out other moms and dads the same.  We had a sense of community.

In the late sixties things began to change.  The Vietnam War was in full swing, along with the Civil Rights Movement and student unrest was building to the “Arab Spring” of its times. Our dreams were beginning to fade – our friends were coming home in body bags, our cities and neighborhoods were being destroyed during the riots of the late sixties, and our leaders were assassinated, one after another.  A shift was starting to happen.  We were becoming divided.  Fences and hedges started to divide our backyards, breaking up that once endless playing field.  We were starting to become more about “me.”

As a culture we roared through the 80’s and 90’s following a path as a society that believed that in order to win, others had to lose.  We became greedy, thinking only of our personal gain and caring little how that affected others. The divide among us has exceeded beyond what most of us would have ever thought possible.  We have made an art of  “ how to get nothing done” with our political system and no one is getting anywhere.  We are expending so much negative energy and if we don’t turn that around, we are all doomed.

I’m not a pessimist – just the opposite. I think if we can all just stop and flip our mindset into what we “can do”, instead of slamming the “other guy”, we just might be able to turn things around.  I see a younger generation, the 25-30 year olds who are thinking more in terms of the “we”, and getting away from the “me” mentality.  I have great hopes for this generation. We are at a turning point.  I’d like to look back at this time 10 years from now and say to myself  “I’m glad I did something.”

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Election Day – Is Anyone Paying Attention?

I’ve always loved Election Day.  It makes me feel like I have the power to make a difference because I know that just one vote can.  I’ll always vote in any given election – not just the Presidential election every four years – but even (especially) in my local election where often one vote has made the difference. I’m grateful that I live in a country where I have the right to vote and I hope I never take that “right” for granted.

When I was 18 years old I couldn’t vote.  The year was 1969; I had just graduated from high school and went off to college. It was a time of unrest and protest on college campuses because the Vietnam War was escalating and every day young men my age were dying.  Young men that couldn’t even cast a vote for their Commander in Chief because the voting age was 21 and they were too young.  Too young to vote but not too young to give their life for their country.  The voting age changed on July 1, 1971 with the Twenty Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution changing the voting age from 21 to 18 in response to the student activism against the war.

It’s hard to believe that change happened in my lifetime and even harder to believe that when my grandmother was in her twenties she couldn’t vote because she was a woman.  I will never take my vote for granted because I feel somehow it dishonors all the people who fought hard for that right. I also feel that apathy can lead to disaster.  Just look at history if you don’t believe me.

We all get caught up in living our lives and sometimes we don’t see the silent shifts of power. But if we’re not careful and aren’t diligent in protecting our rights – they will quietly go away without us ever noticing.  And it makes no difference what your political persuasions are. You have no right to whine about what you don’t like if you don’t vote.

I don’t want to be the one explaining to my grandchildren when they ask me why my generation let “whatever” happen – happen. I don’t want to be the one who says that I was too busy posting on my Facebook and didn’t take the time to go to the polls and vote.

Go vote today – it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

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