Monday, April 23, 2007

The Tragedy Behind the Tragedy

Last week's massacre at Virgina Tech was truly a tragedy. More than thirty people lost their lives, and those who knew them lost friends, sons, daughters, siblings, cousins and students, among others. There is no doubt that the events of that sad day have impacted a large number of people across the country. There is, however, another unfortunate tragedy that is occurring in our country as a result of this event: the tragedy of exploitation.

People love attention. People not only love attention, but they will often stop at nothing to get this attention. Unfortunately, most people are too lazy to use their own merits and skills to earn recognition and would rather obtain it in less trying ways.

How do they do this? Simple, exploit a tragedy.

There are multiple ways in which people use tragedy for their own ends. Let's look at a few of these.

1. Six Degrees of Exploitation
Immediately after a tragedy occurs, people start to find ways to connect themselves to it. If they don't know someone personally involved, they will find someone who knows someone. If that doesn't work, they will find someone who knows someone who knows someone. They will continue on this path until they have found some connection to the events. That way, they can pretend to be both knowledgeable about the incident and personally affected by it, which gains them the much sought-after attention.

"My third cousin twice removed has a friend whose brother knows a guy that worked at Target with a girl who graduated from there six years ago! I need a hug!"

Hey, guess what? Nobody cares!

This sort of behavior is disgusting. Believe it or not, the world doesn't revolve around you. Get over yourself.

2. "My Ribbon is Bigger than Your Ribbon"
In the days that followed the shooting, people started sporting remembrance ribbons as well as maroon and orange clothing in loving memory of those who died. The sad thing is that there appears to be a silent competition among these "mourners" to see who can show the most support for the victims. Immediately after a tragedy, people sport faces of concern. In my opinion, this should be plenty. In the days following such an event, ribbons magically materialize out of thin air and people parade around in those. In the case of Virgina Tech, maroon and orange garb followed the ribbons. It's as if people are in some sort of unannounced contest so see who can best demonstrate that they care. What's next, people strutting around in full Hokie costumes? Don't wear the ribbons or the colors unless you personally feel some sort of bond with or pride in the university. For that matter, don't try to be the one to wear your ribbon the longest either. It isn't about you.

3. All About the Benjamins
If there is one thing sadder than people exploiting a tragedy for attention, it is people exploiting a tragedy for money. After any type of incident such as the Virginia Tech massacre, there is generally an outpouring of money from charities that goes to benefit the school and the families of the victims. Inevitably, scholarship funds will be established in honor of those who died. This outpouring of support is not only uplifting to the families, but the money goes to support some very good causes. The problem arises when people exploit this tragedy for personal monetary gain. Sadly, there are people in this country who have created fake charities in an effort to pad their wallets. This selfishness is astounding. Can these people not think of a better way to make money than to take advantage of innocent people affected by a tragedy? Here's a thought: GET A JOB.

This sort of exploitative behavior is absolutely disgusting. I don't understand why people can never seem to stop thinking about themselves for more than two seconds.

The moral of the story?


- Hessie

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