The last few days, this pipe bomber guy has been on my mind a lot. It was especially surreal yesterday when his capture was first hitting the wires.
And by the wires I don't mean the old school image of AP or UPI teletypes clacking away in various newspaper offices around the world, spitting out cold letters for some journalist to wrestle into a piece for the evening paper or John Chancellor's Nightly News.
No, of course I mean the Internet. We live in a world of second-by-second news, constantly updating and refreshing itself as more information is made available and disseminated for a huge worldwide audience to further digest and spit back out into the void for yet more people to read.
What hit me as bizarre yesterday is that 'news' and even media itself are now participatory, interactive things. It's everyone trying to manipulate and spin everyone else, all at once. We all have access to many resources that can give us what we would call 'news' about the events around us. When the FBI released the pipe bomber's name, a simple Google search led millions to the bomber's band's web page. The band's comments page was then subjected to comments containing every meme I can think of, from Wesley Crusher slash to YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE THE BALL LICKERS!.
The media then picks up on this and makes this 'news', which is only 'news' in the sense that the events the media and FBI put into motion by releasing the suspect's name caused further events which the media felt obligated to report upon. It's almost fractal in the way that one large pattern breaks down and repeats itself on scales that get ever smaller.
And I was there, right in the middle of it all, watching various groups coalesce around various schools of thought about why the suspect did what he did, what his various anti-government screeds really meant, whether or not the suspect is mentally ill, even whether or not he is cuter with long or short hair!
It was surreal. It was bizzare. It was ... the world we live in today. We're given so much information that an old phrase I first heard watching Wall Street--"Information is the most valuable commodity I can think of"--means nothing. This is the Information Age? No, that age has passed, and has led to the Apathy Age. We can't adapt to all this constantly changing, constantly coming information, so we just ... dismiss most of it as noise. Some, it appears, cannot adapt at all and simply ... break down, often times with spectacular results, and all too frequently with deadly results.
It got me thinking. Here is a young man who seems to have suddenly snapped and decides that the only way for people to hear him is to start hurting others. In most of the stuff he writes, including his music, he seems very familiar with death, in fact dismisses death as unimportant, instead saying that he is 'removing' or 'dismissing' people from this reality, not killing them (thankfully his bombs didn't in actuality kill anyone). He's so disconnected from his fellow humans, he thinks murder is nothing more than a dismissal.
I discovered that while I've had plenty of experiences that suggest that there may, indeed, be something after death, or other realms of perception and manipulation, none of those experiences would stand up to any kind of test of rational thinking. It's why I call these experiences the things that give me faith ... faith in life as well as death. It's a fairly balanced outlook, for me at least. The things I experience in this life make me love life as a gift. The things that I experience that suggest that there are other ... possibilities ... give me faith that the universe works according to a structure and plan that I cannot fathom. Yet I must be part of that structure, and part of that plan. I have faith. And that faith is the one thing that keeps me from going off the deep end in times of trouble. I understood that this kid, who thinks communication is only attained through hurting others, has no faith whatsoever. And that's sad.
And then you know what I did, after thinking these thoughts?
I went outside, into an egregiously beautiful day. I sat down in my back yard and watched the little house finches feeding their young for nearly an hour. The father of the family has got quite a lovely song, and the cutest little tuft of almost DayGlo orange feathers on his butt. He and his mate sing, feed their kids, sing some more, and fly around. They seem to actually like watching the humans in my house watch them feed their brood. You almost feel like they're proud parents and they know they are.
I dismissed Luke Helder from my reality as easy as that.
I didn't have to hurt anyone to do it either.