A Generation of Paparazzi?

I continue to be amazed at the exponentially growing advances in communications technology. A product of the dark ages, I’m unable to keep abreast of the newest and latest electronic gizmos, all of which my sons inform me are obsolete before they hit the market. But even allowing for my stunted learning curve, I’m stymied as to why anyone other than an aerospace engineer or rocket scientist actually needs most of these devices. The focus of today’s rant: the camera phone.

As with most gadgets, the camera phone is an example of what can happen when a good idea goes south. Taking photos of children and grandchildren, of lovely countryside, and of cute animals – that’s all good. But the down side is that anyone anywhere may become the subject of some wannabe paparazzo’s attention.

A paramedic friend recently told me about a horrific car crash to which he was a first responder. The wreck involved four vehicles. One was a van in which people had been sleeping, most not wearing seatbelts. A couple of people had been thrown from the van as it rolled over, and body parts and bleeding people were strewn across the highway. That’s bad enough, but the worst part was that the ambulance had trouble getting to the scene because of the crowd taking pictures with their phones.

The driver of one vehicle, a middle-aged woman, was not quite dead. She was still seated behind the steering wheel, bleeding from several head wounds. She was moving a little, and several people crowded around the car, trying to catch the light just right as they shot their mini-videos of this woman’s death throes.
My friend shouted at them, “What if this was your mother needing help? Show some respect.” He said a couple of people retreated a few feet, but most of them stayed where they were, pointing and clicking away, until the police arrived and ordered them back.

Like a too-spicy lunch, my friend’s question to the crowd keeps coming up, intruding on my thoughts. How is it that we have become so inured to another human being’s suffering that uppermost in our minds is how we can capitalize on it to make ourselves look cool? Whatever happened to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Welcome to the twenty-first century.

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