The world is a crazy place these days. Perhaps it has always been so, and we just weren’t aware of how crazy the world really was until we launched into the continuous 24-hour news cycle in which we now live.
Case in point: A Florida man is dead, another Florida man is in jail as a result of a shooting in a movie theater apparently caused by texting. As the story was reported, the dead man was shot after he refused to stop texting during the screening of a movie preview – not even the movie, mind you. The apparent fact that he was texting his three-year old daughter was not enough to keep the alleged gunman, a retired police officer, from pulling the trigger.
After reading the story on BBC News, several thoughts ran through my mind, most of them having nothing to do with gun control or the debate that is sure to start anew with some in the wake of the shooting.
Instead, my first set of questions is: Would this have played out differently, say, five or ten years ago? While texting has been around a while, it is only in the last several years that is has become widespread to the point where laws are now enacted in states banning texting while driving. Prior to the advent of texting, people might have been asked to lower their voices if talking during a film or a preview, but would they have been shot if they failed to comply?
My second set of questions: What in the world was a three-year old even doing with a cell phone, presumably how she was receiving the texts? Was it her cell phone – if so, why does a three-year old need, let alone have a cell phone? Was it the babysitter’s phone? If so, why was the father texting to that number?
My third set of questions: Have we become so cocooned in our technology that we no longer recognize or worse, no longer care when our actions negatively affect another person? Have we reached a point of being so hostile to authority that we ignore rules we don’t care for? (Presumably at some point before the movie previews began, the ubiquitous request to turn off cell phones went up on the screen.) Perhaps in this instance, the shooter and victim took their cues from the dysfunctional hostility that passes for government these days in Washington, DC.
My last set of questions hit a little closer to home for me: Who is going to tell the three-year old daughter, now without a father, what happened? How will she grow up? How will she cope without her father? Although the circumstances were different, my father went out of my life at age five, not so far removed from age three. I was not told then or later what actually happened. I only finally heard a story that made sense nearly 50 years later. In between, I had no explanation and had to guess.
I don't know what those closest to her will tell this little girl or when, but they should make sure they don’t wait forever. Whatever they tell her, it is going to hurt. But not knowing hurts a lot more.