I’ve been meaning to write about the first time I was interviewed for television. This is probably a longer-than-usual read, but stick with it because you’ll get something out of it. I promise.
Back in 2002, a gentleman named Manuel Andrade was murdered in the apartment complex where I lived. He was a business owner, a husband, and a father. I didn’t know him, but I found out later that he lived in the building right across the parking lot. It happened on a Sunday, and I was spending my weekends in Boston back then. So I didn’t find out about the murder until I got back home from work the next day.
As I was walking up to my apartment, I was approached by a young, well dressed lady who asked for a moment of my time. She told me her name and said she was a news reporter. Asked if I had heard what happened. When I told her I did, she asked if I’d be willing to talk about it on camera. When I agreed, the cameraman who had been sitting in the front seat of a car came out and started filming.
The thing that you should know about this particular apartment complex was that it was in a nice neighborhood in a small town in Massachusetts. I joked with her that it was hard to get in the place even as a resident. Which was true; the access doors to the building were solid, self-closers, and required a separate key from the ones to individual apartments. On top of that, the apartments themselves were pretty close together. If you knocked on my door, chances were pretty good a neighbor would answer their own thinking you’d knocked on theirs. Thin walls, you know? Don’t judge – I was young, dumb, and broke.
She asked me if I was afraid, knowing what had happened in the building across the street. I said, “Not at all. This is a very safe neighborhood. It’s hard enough to get in the place if you live here and have a key, never mind someone randomly breaking in. My guess is it was someone he knew. I feel bad for the guy, but there’s nothing for anyone who lives here to worry about.”
She thanked me and told me I’d be on air during the evening newscast. Damn right I tuned in – it was to be my television debut!
Ready for this? The only part of the interview they aired was when I said, “This is a very safe neighborhood.”
The rest, the part about how hard it was to get in the building, that it was probably someone he knew (turns out I was right about that), and there was nothing for the residents to worry about was cut out. Right after airing my quote, they cut to another interview with two older residents who were panicking and extremely concerned. Those were the folks who got the majority of air time.
Why? Because what I said didn’t fill their need. Taken out of context, that isolated part of my quote about it being in a safe neighborhood screams, “See! This even happens in safe neighborhoods. It could happen to YOU!” Had they played the entire interview, it’s not nearly as alarming and “newsworthy.” So they just cut it out.
Talk about sensationalism. Ever since, I’ve never watched or read the news without a fair amount of skepticism. It showed me that you really cannot believe everything you’re told. Even when you see it with your own eyes. More important, it was proof that certain outlets will tailor a message in direct contrast to what someone actually said (aka – the facts) if it serves their purpose.
What’s my point in telling you this? Hopefully that you’ll take what you see, hear, and read about in stride from now on. (Yes, I am aware that applies to this post. Awkward!)
We have so many more outlets than we did back then. The internet is awesome, but it’s also a huge source of information. And there is even less accountability for what is put out there than back in 2002. Turns out things are not nearly as bad in the world as some will have you believe. Alarmists have been pounding horrific things into our brains that really aren’t as widespread as they are made out to be. It just seems that way because it’s everywhere, all the time. The effect this practice has had on society is undeniable. When’s the last time you saw kids playing out on the streets?
It makes me sad to think people aren’t relating anymore. Everyone thinks something bad is about to happen to them at any second. Lock your doors, don’t trust your neighbors, crime is everywhere! Makes me wonder why we’re going in the wrong direction when we’re supposed to be evolving. Then I think about what happened to me, and decide maybe there’s hope in spite of what I keep hearing. Because the people I interact with in person aren’t so bad, after all.
In fact, turns out they’re pretty much just like me.
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