In October, several scientists in Italy were convicted of manslaughter, having been accused of withholding crucial information that led to the death of several individuals during an earthquake in 2009. Their conviction came because they didn’t report what they felt, in their expert opinion, was inconsequential. The judge disagreed. Hindsight makes their conviction seem justified. Being wrong is costly, but is constant paranoia worth it?
Some have adopted a style of reporting that no longer informs the populace of necessary information, but rather creates an atmosphere of fear that chokes away our freedoms and leaves us gasping. Hyper-scrutinizing eyes are particularly numerous in this part of the country, and with Veterans Day approaching, an overzealous patriotism might be the catalyst for reporting what is perceived to be unusual.
These days we believe in a system of divulging everything we see and hear, even if it is as small as one student commenting on how she would like to punch a professor because of the difficulty of her English exam. The reporting of such an incident, however, does nothing for protection. Instead, it generates unease at the thought that every conceivable remark could be the trip-wire for the next Virginia Tech-type incident.
To create fear out of something entirely mundane is a reactive culture. The truly sad aspect about this is that we, as students and people, have the ability to correct it, but we choose to keep ourselves in the dark. We can decipher when a person is joking and when a person is genuinely crying out for help or paving a destructive path for themselves, and yet, we ignore this ability time and time again.
Instead, we spread the word amongst each other and authorities, further destroying our prospects of peace in favor of a time of absolute terror, hidden beneath a false friendly face.
The sad fact of it all is that the cure lies right before us. The “if you see something, say something” mantra has gone too far. Use common sense. It is the appeal to reason that we lack in the first place. Leave the over-saturation of reporting to the likes of Fox News and MSNBC.