Monday, February 13, 2023

What We Talk About

It's not uncommon to see a social media post with the framing, Remember when [thing happened] and then we never talked about it again? And sometimes it's annoying, because people have talked about it. Or people are working on it. 
But one of the things that I find interesting when people do stories about things like the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia that we tend to talk about the lack of national coverage of it as a function of the times. Like, now, you could never have something like this happen, and not have everyone know.
And that both is and isn't true. I mean it's true that I know about things that happen in North Carolina, and Tennessee and Ohio, even though I do not personally have any family in those three states. But off the top of my head I feel like you could do a person on the street interview with folks and ask: Can you name three places in the US without safe drinking water right now?
Has anyone who attacked a power plant in the last few years been detained?
Do you know if there are available hospital beds near you?
And do you know if you are impacted by the chemicals being off gassed as a result of the train derailment?
And I feel like most people wouldn't know. Not because they are bad or even uninformed. 
But even with social media and the internet allowing us access to more information, there's so much of it. And so many things we just aren't getting answers too. 
And some of this is because a lot of local media has been gutted. So that scrappy local reporter who would show up every day and ask the mayor or the power plant exec or the water company, what the plan was? Well that person also covers all the sports, handles the ad buys, and takes all the photos. So the amount of time they have to dedicate to one story? Not the same. 
This is why more of us knew about the water in Flint because of a kid whose parents were good at social media. It kept the issue on people's minds enough that national reported followed up on it. 
There are other weak spots in news. I have never found a suitable reason that despite prominent activists being located in the DC metro area, that local killings never tick up to national level hash tags the way others do. (There are local organizations and journalists working on and highlighting these, I don't want to erase that.) 
But we are in a place where even though we can know more things, the access to ongoing information is clearly still being stifled. And it's not lost on me that that might be one reason we're watching some social media being dismantled.