Hey, you — you’re the worst

I don’t really like Halloween.

There, I said it. I want to. I used to. But now, as an adult, it’s just disappointing. Like, it makes me disappointed in society.

Every year, I can’t help but feel a vague sense of dread, just waiting to see what kind of destruction takes place. And today, the day after Halloween, is when all the lovely details come out.

This is how I feel about Halloween

About twenty cars were vandalized in my neighborhood last night – I’m talking graffiti, slashed tires, broken windows, theft. Just…why? I live in a city, in a neighborhood with people from all walks of life. It’s not crime-free, but it’s far from a scary, violent place. Except on Halloween, I guess.

I did walk away from my car with some trepidation last night, worried that perhaps I’d find it egged or a pumpkin smashed across the hood. I gave people too much credit. Thankfully my car was spared, but many of my neighbors had their day/week/month ruined this morning for no reason at all.

A few miles away, my dad, a man in his sixties, reluctantly answered the door shortly before midnight after relentless knocking and ringing of the doorbell – simply to stop the racket that I’m sure was stressing out both him and our elderly family dog (who has major anxiety). At which point a bunch of jackass teenagers silly-stringed him – a retired man, relaxing alone in his home. Really?

Every year it’s the same thing – teenagers, even adults, smash to pieces jack-o-lanterns lovingly carved by small children. Homes and cars are vandalized. Actual riots break out.

I get that Halloween involves mischief – kids being kids, pulling pranks, a little TP and shaving cream. But it’s not that anymore. Now it’s genuine cruelty and destruction and just makes me wonder what is so wrong in people’s lives. A holiday that should be so fun – for adults too but especially for kids – has just become sinister.

Honestly, what’s next? Breaking into people’s homes and stealing their Thanksgiving turkey? Throwing coal through people’s windows on Christmas Day? Crashing a child’s birthday party and slapping him or her in the face?

To the people who pull this crap: You are high on the list of the worst people in the world. Below terrorists and serial killers – but far above litterers. And you know how I feel about litterers.

Scare tactics

I have a serious bone to pick with my local newspaper. Yesterday, I went to their website like I do most days to check out, you know, the local news.

I was met with this headline: “Broadway closed over bomb threat.”

Broadway is a main road in my city’s downtown that houses several government buildings. The article stated that there was a suspicious package found “near the federal courthouse” and that the situation was being investigated.

Now, generally I’m more paranoid than anyone when it comes to things like this. Still, something told me to be skeptical…

And yeah, here’s what actually happened: the fire department responded to that area for an unrelated matter. At that time, someone notified a firefighter of a duffel bag sitting near a dumpster on a tiny little alley/street off Broadway that contains a few small lunch restaurants. Firefighters and police, as a precaution, shut down a small area around Broadway while they checked it out, and the whole situation was resolved in an hour.

                                                                             (source)

At no point was there a bomb threat. Let’s just go ahead and define the term here since the journalists and editors at the area’s largest newspaper are apparently unfamiliar with it. A bomb threat is defined as “a threat, usually verbal or written, to detonate an explosive or incendiary device to cause property damage, death, or injuries, whether or not such a device actually exists” (from Wikipedia; I found the same definition on several state and city law enforcement websites).

THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. A duffel bag was found by a dumpster. At no point was there a threat made or a mention of a bomb by anyone.

I’m not saying the person who reported it was wrong to do so, or that the police and fire departments were wrong to investigate it – of course not. It’s obviously better to be safe than sorry. They all did the right thing.

It’s the newspaper that did the wrong thing. They resorted to pathetic scare tactics – not to mention complete inaccuracy – to get clicks on their website. I don’t know which is worse – the thought that whoever wrote and approved that story actually do not know what a bomb threat is, or that they purposely misused the term to make a mundane story sound salacious.

I also love how they jumped to describe the package as “near the federal courthouse,” implying a would-be target, when – as I described above – it was actually found on a little alley of eateries. Yes, technically that alley is near the courthouse, but had it been an actual bomb, it would have been more likely to take out my favorite panini place.

This makes me angry for so many reasons. We have enough to be scared about in this world; we read about enough heinous things happening in this country on a daily basis – we don’t need to manufacture things to worry people. Beyond that, if every minute (non)incident is reported as though we just narrowly avoided a terrorist attack, it dilutes the impact if there is ever an actual threat. And furthermore, this kind of coverage may discourage people from reporting things that feel suspicious to them.

Like I said, I don’t think the person who reported this was wrong – in all likelihood, they said to the firefighter, “hey, there’s a bag over there that you might want to check out.” But if you know saying something like that will result in a bomb threat being reported to the entire city, you might think twice. And you shouldn’t have to – you should be able to voice your concern if something feels off to you and trust that it will be checked out – not sensationalized by the media.

Whew, I guess I just really needed to rant about that one. How about you — do you get frustrated when the media blows things out of proportion?

Some news is good news

The news and I are not really friends. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed; it’s just that I can only tolerate so much. And by tolerate, I mean actually mentally and physically tolerate – I went on a news-reading binge the other night that literally gave me a stomachache.

I wrote last week about how I struggle with all the scary things happening in the world. Especially lately, the horrors that are taking place in every corner of the globe are nearly incomprehensible. And of course, the mainstream media thrives on this.

The other day I said to my boyfriend that I wondered if there were any sites devoted only to positive news. For some reason, he seemed to think that was totally crazy and not something that would exist.

But I knew the truth – on the Internet, everything exists. Lo and behold, there are many such sites that have been around for years, I just never looked for them before.

One I’ve been checking out so far is the Good News Network. I like this site because it’s not all warm and fuzzy, Chicken Soup for the Soul type stories (though I’m not technically opposed to that) – it’s just stories that are positive, whether it be an act of kindness or a new medical advancement that will save lives.

Here is some of today’s news:

Child Expected to Die Without Any Bones Now Grows Them Thanks to New Therapy

Boston Runner and Blast Victim Form Lifelong Bond

College Athlete Gives Up Shot Put Career in Order to Donate Bone Marrow

Dashboard Cam Shows Kind Man Jumping to Help in Traffic

Ok, so their headline writing leaves something to be desired. Still, doesn’t it make you feel good?

The boyfriend (who works in news, which might account for his scoffing…) seemed to think the idea behind such a site would be to remain oblivious to reality. But this is not the case. I’m not looking to brainwash myself into thinking only good things happen; I highly doubt that would be possible even if I tried.

No, it’s just that after reading about the latest horrors, I need some way to balance out my feelings about humanity. There are good things happening every day, and good people behind them, but sometimes you really wouldn’t know it, not unless you look.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I don’t want to put blinders on. I just want to see the good.