Eric Garner, Peter Pan and Alternate Realities
Last night Stephen Falk put it best:
This might be the worst night on Twitter ever.— Stephen Falk (@stephenfalk) December 5, 2014
Frankly, Twitter was positively schizophrenic last night. (I can throw that term around, my family has a history.) It was completely surreal to watch half my feed report live from large protests and the other to chatter incessantly over a production of Peter Pan.
It was like these events were happening on alternate Earths, and in a poetic sense they were. If you ever wanted to know why the slogan #BlackLivesMatter is so important, and why it and not #AllLivesMatter is the proper rallying cry last night was an excellent primer.
For some those who were absorbed in Peter Pan Live the struggles of Black Americans for equal protection under the law—specifically the protection from not having cops shoot first and ask questions later—were basically invisible. It might as well not have been happening.
You could tell which of us were getting both in our feeds. It was stomach churning at times. Too much cognitive dissonance. There were jokes, of course. We always have jokes in times of discomfort, but last night I think I saw fewer of those than I did just basic shock.
I don’t think that this kind of bifurcated existence is something we can code away, and maybe it is a good thing that we see how divided the attention of the country is. After all, it always has been, we just haven’t lived in such a transparent era before.
Life is also made up of all these things: issues of justice and rights alongside pop entertainment. We’d be lying to ourselves if we said otherwise. What matters is where our individual and from there our collective, priorities lie.
I just hope we can use these tools we’ve built to make us better people, not blinder consumers.