Some days I wish bad news still came via smoke signals, carrier pigeon, or a parchment scroll. Or that it was delivered by a rugged man on horseback arriving in a cloud of dust after riding for days across the prairie. I’d wait while an ancient ocean liner crossed the Atlantic, carrying news of someone’s death.
Or maybe I’d just prefer not to hear it all. The bad news, that is. Good news can come fast and often.
Some days I just can’t handle the instant everything. The non-stop news crawler at the bottom of our television screens could end today as far as I’m concerned. Twitter and Facebook have their place?in the business world. Through Twitter I learned that Jim Sandusky had done something bad. I could have waited until the six o?clock news to hear about the sex crimes. Honest.
Celebrity scandals like the Charlie Sheen meltdown or the Kim Kardashian was-it-really-a-wedding story are one thing. They provide comic relief; an affirmation that we may not have money and fame, but at least we’ve got common sense. It’s a superficial and silly business, and most of us know it.
What saddens me is hearing about the sick and twisted things people are doing to other people. Edmonton’s Mark Twitchell luring, murder, and dismemberment case made headlines locally and around the world because the murder mimicked a movie he’d made. More recently, he tried selling celebrity pencil sketches from his jail cell.
We’d barely forgotten those gruesome details when the Dustin Paxton trial for forcible confinement, aggravated assault, and sexual assault made its way through a Calgary courtroom. Prolonged torture left the victim near death. All who heard the details were horrified.
Just this week, a missing 77-year-old farmer was discovered dead and dismembered in rural Alberta. A man and woman have been charged in connection with the case. Police believe he was abducted from his home.
Lest you believe the crazies only live in Alberta, a January 14 Edmonton Journal story covered another torture trial happening in Toronto. In that case a woman and her boyfriend tortured her husband over a three-month period.
Part of me knows psychopaths have always walked among us. They are not confined to horror books or to big or little screens. Another part of me wants to know if there are more of them now, doing even more horrific deeds, or if the incessant instant coverage of crimes just makes it feel that way.
Short of unplugging everything (television, radio, computer, phone) and never reading another newspaper, what is the answer to protecting ourselves from the onslaught? The complexities of the issue don’t escape me. There is no quick or easy fix for damaged human beings, mental illness, copycats, and those seeking notoriety. This I know.
But is it wrong to wish for smoke signals and slow boats? Bad news can wait, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.