Don't Gape—Do Something

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On September 16, 2013, someone shot up a Navy Yard.

I know the basics of what happened: A man with permission to enter, a former reservist, opened fire, killing and wounding a number of people.

Horrible. Sickening. Fodder for concerns about rampant, unchecked mental illness, firearms, and security.

Yet I don’t want to know about the mass shooter’s childhood. Or the appearance of his apartment. I don’t care what parishioners at his place of worship think of his character. Or about the opinions of his high school classmates.

In truth, I don’t consider the shooter worth even a jot of my limited time and attention.

Sordid details change nothing of what happened—and will not help prevent something similar from occurring in the future. Journalism has trended toward sensationalism since the first reporter came back to his tribe with a tale of the day’s hunt. Our nonstop news cycle has made the sensationalism worse by filling twenty four hours a day over seven days a week.

Turn it off.

Instead of obsessing over the killer’s relationship with his mother, research how you can help people with mental illness. Or improve the security of average citizens. Or ensure better safety when it comes to guns.

Or find something completely unrelated to mass killings upon which you can focus your energies. Find ways to improve our world—so much needs attention—rather than gossiping over the trifling incidentals of evil.

Work to cure ills. Soothe hurts. Further creativity. Seed beauty.

How could you better spend your attention?