I have this concept that Americans (and perhaps people all over the world) have, what I call, “Headline ADD”. Often, there’ll be a huge event, and people will become hysterical over it, panic, or just talk about it a lot. The event will take over the airwaves 24/7, and dinner conversation will become, “Hey, what do you think of ______?”. If it’s a natural disaster, people will start to give money, or organize fund raisers. If it’s a human tragedy, people will make their Facebook status’ “RIP ___”, or forward mass e-mails about the event. But then– almost always– Headline ADD kicks in. Clearly, people are influenced by the news stations and papers who stop covering the story after it loses its appeal.
It happened with Katrina– people watched what played out in the south, held some fund raisers, and forgot about it. (I even remember having a lemonade stand in front of my house “for victims of Katrina”.) It happened with the Swine Flu “epidemic”. It happened with the earthquake in Haiti. It happened with the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in iceland. It happened with the car bomber in Times Square.
To an extent, it even happened with 9/11. In a response to the worst human tragedy ever to take place on American soil, people became patriotic, put American flags on their cars, and started saying the Pledge of Allegiance. But, again, people began to stop talking about it (until George Bush reminded them of it when he invaded Iraq and Afghanistan) and other things became more important.
Headline ADD. It’s real.