A horror movie, right there on my TV
There will come a time for introspection, but for now we watch the tide.
Before dawn broke this morning much of Brisbane’s CBD will have been swamped by a muddy deluge that will scour and scare the city.
But this is a news story like no other in our history because this story is playing out painstakingly live on at least four channels.
The Victorian bushfires in 2009 chased through the bush and left carnage in their wake, as the media scrambled to tell the countless horror stories that had played out.
This time, we find ourselves unsettlingly waiting for the carnage to unfold, helped along by the rolling news coverage.
Yesterday the nation watching the swelling river take the city, a wired mania feeding off constant updates from furrow-browed blondes with microphones.
Around Queensland and Northern NSW there were a herd of (mostly) young women chasing tragedy. They are the crop of TV journalists who have found themselves narrating an unfolding, incomprehensible natural disaster.
The persistent, breathless news bulletins and live crosses that swamped the major channels mean the nation, as a whole, is living though this mud-slicked misery in intimate detail.
Near constant media briefings, hour after hour of footage of brown water ripping and roaring through towns and paddocks, has pushed this natural disaster into every living room in the country like never before.
In times of anxiety we hunt for information - a classic symptom of disaster scenarios, according to psychologists - and we are ravenously consuming and producing vast swathes of information in hitherto unknown proportions.
Never before have we had a national tragedy play out on Twitter and Facebook, offering a beguiling intimacy and empathy between those at the epicentre of this and those watching, frustrated and shocked from the sidelines.
There is no question the vast proliferation of broadcast and social media is changing the way we, as a nation, experience tragedy and disaster. Will this level of coverage also change the way we make sense of this experience, how we assimilate it into our collective memory?
Nick Earls wrote in the New York Times this week: “Events like this flood not only show our stoicism, but create it. It’s important to Queenslanders, like all Australians, that we see ourselves as people who look adversity in the eye, stare it down and band together to overcome it.”
But, are we looking calamity and sorrow in the eye or becoming disoriented in an overwhelming, constantly unfolding tale?
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Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@AndrewCatsaras I recall as a youngster finding the women in that scene very, ahem, interesting.
@GerardDaffy Yeah, it was silly. Still, going on comments readers are liking it. It was a shockingly violent news day. People need relief
RT @GrogsGamut: QUESTION: But in terms of that discussion though, is he misquoting you with that?TONY ABBOTT: You’ve had your say. http://t…
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