Saturday, July 09, 2005

Remember when there was no news?

I remember thinking some years ago that my generation was living through a rather dull period in history. My parents remembered where they were when Kennedy was shot and when man landed on the Moon. I remembered where I was when Bill Clinton said “I feel your pain” (recovering from having my teeth pulled) and when O.J. was found “not guilty” (in gym class, out on the tennis courts). There were some school shootings in the late nineties that scared people a bit. The election of 2000 stirred up some controversy, but few actually seemed to care which candidate won. Most people just wanted the election to be over so we could move on. Just before September 11, 2001, the big news story was a Washington intern who had gone missing. Even as 24-hour news channels were becoming more popular, it seemed there was less and less real news to report.

And then there was too much. 9/11. Anthrax scare. Another plane crash in New York. Economic woes. Corporate scandals. Beltway Snipers. Afghanistan. Shoe bomber. Terror attacks around the world. SARS. Columbia breaks up on reentry. Iraq invasion. Hurricane Isabel. The death of Arafat. The capture of Saddam. Hurricane season 2004. Election 2004. The Christmas Tsunami. Iraqi elections. Iraqi insurgency. The bombings in London. Hurricane Dennis.

Some of those are probably out of order. And I know I’ve left a bunch of stuff out. Sometimes, something would happen, but then the next big thing would happen and the first big thing would drop in coverage or even disappear. We hear about Iraq all the time, but what about Afghanistan? Dennis is already stealing headline space from the London bombings. What happened to the days when there would be maybe one big real news story every six months, from which the media would build countless other stories like violence in video games and hanging chads? Maybe I’m just falling into the nostalgia trap.

You know what this means, don’t you? It’s time to update “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.


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