• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Speed of Communication

The impact of rapid reports.

November 24, 2013

I have been having a wonderful time performing in this piece as a member of an eight-person "time consortium." We are given snippets of scientific, philosophical and literary writing on the nature mad meaning of time, and each night we hold extemporaneous discussions about what we read. We are all actors, but we were chosen in part because of our interest or expertise in a variety of fields (other members include a physics teacher, a playwright and a minister), so discussions tend to be wide ranging.

Last night we talked about how the increasing speed of global communication may have affected the depth of our responses to world events. Because of the date, we focused on what felt like a national shutdown, weeks of shock and grief, following JFK's assassination. We contrasted this with the current situation, in which each tragedy or disaster is seemingly erased by rapid reports of a new one.

I was the only one at the table who was alive at the time of the assassination. Many of my peers have published compelling accounts of their experiences of the day; I won't bore you with mine, which is more pedestrian. But I have been thinking about the lasting effect of the event on everyone who lived through it.

I don't think it is just a matter of my youth. Older people also report feeling permanently changed, and in a different way from the way Ben and his cohort feel changed by the events of 9/11, for example. My belief is that we were more protected in my youth — for better or worse, we were sheltered from most of the horrible events happening all over the world, so that some ideals, which don't exist anymore, were shattered. I'm interested in what others think.


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