Humanity Calamity

30 Dec

Dear Ryerson Journalism Program,

I think I’ve lost a bit of my humanity. I think journalism is to blame. When someone confides in me, offering a deeply sad tale, my first thought is, “What a good story!” The subject matter could vary from a minor atrocity, like missing the bus because newly implemented bus routes are ineffective, to something more major, as in an incorrect diagnosis at the hospital.

I’m ashamed to say this idea isn’t my second thought, or even my third but my initial, gut reaction.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to think of myself as a compassionate person, always striving to offer help and advice as best I could. Now, I think of the ability to turn a sorry tale into a great feature. My mind does a little dance. My thought process goes a little like this:

Step 1) “What a good story!”

Step 2) I wonder if it’s useable, if the person would let me interview them or provide me with access to the person in question.

Step 3) I answer the above questions with a simple ‘yes,’ or, ‘no.’ If it’s a no, I immediately snap back into reality, indicating my false displeasure at the sad news and a willingness to help. If it’s a yes, I’ll make a mental note to ask more later.

The whole process takes a few seconds. As my brain does this little jig, I stare blankly before snapping back into reality, the compassionate individual I must pretend to be.

I must admit it’s not all your fault, Ryerson. I bear some responsibility for seeking to train myself. It’s like acquiring a new super power, after all. Actually, in this case, it’s probably more like a curse. But whatever I choose to nickname this burden, I’m sure I’ll eventually learn to grapple it into the foreground, enabling me to display genuine emotion. Until then, I’ll continue to blame the craft for ripping my humanity from my chest.



One Response to “Humanity Calamity”

  1. Esther December 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    You are a terrible person. Now I know that every time I have shared with you an unfortunate event that secretly you were thinking about the 5 W’S (& one H). Seriously, though, there’s nothing wrong with being a little self-serving. And think about it this way… maybe publishing a piece about your friend’s minor tragedy or bus mis-hap could actually help them, by bringing awareness to the issue and fame and fortune to the otherwise unfortunate amity. OK, not really, but if that keeps you warm at night, why not.

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