Saturday, March 03, 2007

Modern Day Peeping Toms

My friend Chris LeDuc and I frequently exchange emails with each other about Typically the topic is the latest goofy news story highlighted on the website. Instead of reporting meaningful news from around the world, all too often fills its homepage with trivial stories. As I post this, "Political debate at nudist colony" and "420-pound mom didn't know she was pregnant" are headlines on their site. And it's not just Pick a news network or a magazine and chances are the topic leans more to Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith than to the war in Iraq or things actually newsworthy.

So when I ran across this column in Newsweek from Anna Quindlen, it registered with me as it puts the spotlight on our obsession with gossip culture. I think she hits this one out of the park.

Quindlen: Gossip in the Age of Anna Nicole

Gossip is so hard-wired into humans that someday scientists may isolate the gene. But at least we used to mainly gossip about people we actually knew.

Knowing, of course, is what is supposed to set humans apart from animals. After stalking the bogeyman she and the other kids have created out of imagination and legend, Scout Finch, the little girl in "To Kill a Mockingbird," meets the real Boo Radley. In the flesh he is vulnerable, harmless and human, and Scout leads him back inside, away from punishing public scrutiny. Today, if the occasion arose, Boo would be photographed through his window, the little treasures he gave the Finch children auctioned on eBay, the people on his block interviewed by Nancy Grace and Pat O'Brien. And none of this would seem noteworthy or gratuitous or cruel. After all, we wouldn't even know the guy. We would just think we knew everything about him.

1 comment:

Scott said...

For all the latest headlines, I like to use