|UARS satellite, actual size|
OK, totally lying -- I was completely freaked out. Always checking various reputable sources of information, and then Googling less reputable sources of information that might better back up my story (my story being: I was not going to be crushed by plummeting death from the skies). Always asking that silent, screaming question: well, it won't hit the *United States* will it? I mean -- it's sort of our satellite and all, but we're not really supposed to (nervous reasonable smile) endure a 1,200 pound flaming piece of space junk the size of the Partridge Family bus falling down on our heads?
This is often how the major news networks usually frame such situations. "Oh, this terrible thing didn't happen/won't happen here -- never mind." Then, on the off-chance it might happen here, importance gets rated in terms of how urbanely "sophisticated" or "culturally significant" the possible target area is considered to be. Will the deadly hurricane hit a place with 12 museums, or only 8? There's a hierarchy of media importance. And what type of museums are we talking about? Modern Art or NASCAR? All these factors come into play as to how upset and concerned the mainstream news outlets feel we all should be.
Perfect examples of this are the recent hurricane and earthquake in the Northeast. The fact that these events hit New York City (albeit in a smaller way than first thought) kept the major news hubs buzzing day after day. But once NYC was in "the clear," all was well -- in fact some articles and pundits claimed it was all "much ado about nothing". Except for the people outside of New York who had their power off for weeks, had streets washed away, were killed by flying debris, endured continuing states of emergency, etc. But that stuff happens, behind the scenes, all the time. The real question was -- will the Broadway shows still go on? (cut to a sad Lion King in front of a shuttered theater)
2011, so far, has been a year of living "dangerously" -- at least in terms by the number of extreme weather/geological events, political unrest, economic disasters and "doomsday" predictions in the media. The year started with Snowpocalypse -- I know this, because in New York City we had a Foursquare check-in for the occasion. March saw the biggest earthquake ever to hit Japan, triggering off a nuclear emergency in the country -- with the biggest attention in U.S. media being focused on "will a radiation cloud blow over California?" In May, the End of The World was famously announced by a fringe preacher -- and inexplicably embraced and publicized by the mainstream news. Well, come on -- not inexplicably. "Doomsday" sells. There are over 50,000 books about theoretical "end date" 2012 on Amazon.com.
Then August started with an earthquake striking Virginia and being felt all the way up the Northeast coast to Canada. Scores of people -- many in NYC -- recorded videos for YouTube detailing the event, documenting picture frames askew on walls and the like (there was also a Foursquare check-in for that). A freak hurricane was predicted to strike the Big Apple the end of that same week -- what an inconvenience (there was, of course, a Fourquare check-in for that)! There were also the riots that hit London -- which wasn't *The United States* of course, but seemed way more uncomfortably similar to the U.S. than, say, Egypt -- and the Standard and Poors downgrade. The 10-year-anniversary of 9/11 set off a whole two weeks' worth of paranoia and predictions of doom. And now, here we are -- runaway satellite re-enacts "Until The End Of The World" plotline.
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! Is it any wonder the original "Ghostbusters" is returning to theaters in October? Oh, and remember that pesky End of the World prediction in May? Uh, that was only the first of a two-parter, the beginning of a cycle of chaos and destruction. The second part is supposed to arrive on 10/21. But I don't believe in any of that stuff. I only trust what Wolf Blitzer tells me.