Aruba? Are you kidding me?

As I’ve previously indicated here, I’m not a fan of television. But it’s a part of modern life, and one of those reasons that people like myself give to justify its existence is to “keep up with what’s happening in the world.” Fair enough.

Reading a newspaper is another way of doing that, but the internet seems to have set newspapers on a different course, maybe not to oblivion, but certainly to a different place than what they once were. Speaking of the internet, I probably get more news from Twitter than I do from newspapers anymore. Sad but true.

So this morning, my wife has the Today Show on as she’s getting ready for work. It’s NBC, it’s designed to give people like her the news as they’re starting out their day, so what’s the harm, right? But I was frankly disgusted with what I saw.

Apparently, a blonde American woman went down to Aruba and disappeared. Unfortunate, yes, but the Today Show this morning had a full report, followed up by an interview with some local law enforcement official. It’s 10 minutes into the program, and not a word has been uttered about anything that really matters in my life. At that point, I exercised my right to turn the stupid thing off. I hope there are others who did the same or, better yet, that never turned on the Today Show in the first place.

I live in Chicago, and things that I see in and around this city are what matter to me the most. But the networks won’t get too far with a local angle, and their job is to get the people in Omaha and Sacramento and Raleigh and everywhere else interested in what they’re saying. But there have to be enough stories somewhere in this country to fill up the airwaves.

I’d rather hear about a person or an organization in Detroit, or Tucson, or practically any other city here in the USA, that is trying to better their circumstances by helping others in some way. Or hear about a veteran who has overcome his or her battlefield injuries. Or even learn something about an animal shelter that’s trying to place unwanted pets in good homes. Yes, an animal shelter in Macon or Dubuque or anywhere on American soil is more interesting to me than the whereabouts of a woman who had the means to fly to Aruba but not the sense to look out for what she found there.

Times are bad here in this country. Lots of people can’t find work, or have lost their homes, or lay awake at night worrying about how to pay off their credit card bills. But talking about that in an open and honest way is asking too much of the network news, apparently. No, it’s better for them to pay reporters and camera operators and other support staff to fly to an exotic island, which most of us can’t afford to visit in the first place, and tell a story down there. Makes absolutely no sense to me. But it speaks volumes about where we are as a society, and how badly off course we really are.

The woman is gone. She’s not going to be found again. But there are lots of people missing in this country, too. Like Oscar Montano, whose picture is shown above. He went missing over a month ago in Fairfax County, Virginia. Why not tell his story, in the hopes that maybe he can be located somehow? Oh right, there’s the pretty blonde factor at play here. I’ve seen the woman’s picture, and don’t find her attractive myself, but the Today Show’s calculus appears to be this:

one blonde American woman missing in a tropical setting > all other missing Americans in this country + all other stories in the USA  and the entire world.

That’s quite a reach on their part, isn’t it? The Aruba story is escapism in its purest form. But all of the other stuff that we’re all dealing with on our shores is so much more tangible and, frankly, more relevant than the fate of one woman in Aruba ever could be. It would be nice if the people who ran this  and other “news” programs understood this, as well.