In 1949, a little 3 year old girl fell down a well in the town of San Marino, California. Her name was Kathy Fiscus and her rescue effort captured the rapt attention of all America. A lot of people had TV sets by that time and her rescue effort was almost the only thing being broadcast. Progress reports on the effort dominated the radio.
Thousands of people came from towns and cities near and far away to aid in the rescue. There were cranes and drilling rigs from a dozen towns and Hollywood crews brought in 50 floodlights. When the power died the second night, people aimed their cars at the rigs and turned on their headlights. Hundreds of car batteries went dead that night.
When the rescuers finally reached her, she had died, and the tragedy of her death inspired a country-western song that was recorded in separate versions by the top country singers of the day. Three movies were inspired by her tragic death including one by Woody Allen.
Now, there are a dozen Kathy Fiscus-type stories a day and no one pays much attention to any of them. A brief mention and then they’re gone, to be replaced an hour later by the next horror or tragedy or disaster.
I know people who live back in the mountains, in remote areas, my former neighbors, who have no televisions, no computers, and probably don’t listen to the radio much, either. As one of them put it, “I’m not on the information super highway and I never will be”.
I can deal with it because it doesn’t overwhelm me. I remember when they were trying to save little Kathy, I was only 10 years old but I was hoping for her just as hard as anyone else and I still have the sense of human community, the perspective, the ability we were all given to see things with passion, with the full sense of “there but for God’s grace go I”.
That’s what’s been lost on the information super highway. Too much information, loaded on too fast for any of us to need, or use, or assimilate. Our sense of community has been buried under the massive weight of global input. Too many events, too much happening, too much everything.
You know what we need? We need 12-step programs to help us tune out, to get free of Information Addiction. We need a National Day of No News. Every month. One day a month when all the media shuts down, when even blogging is illegal, when TV and radio stations are off the air. We need to shut off the incessant stream of blah blah blah that we won’t remember anything of tomorrow, for at least one day every month, and get our perspective back.
I know, we need other things too, this is no cure for the world, but it sure would be a nice break.