Hello again from Sarah Graves, writing to you from Eastport, Maine, where if the world ends today we won’t find out about it for ten years or so, that’s how remote we are here. But we’re finding out plenty about one thing, all right: Now that CNN, MSNBC, and the other US “news” sources have discovered the intensely profitable clickbait that is Ferguson, MO, you’d think Ebola had been wiped out. Or that Israel and Gaza had made peace. Or that ISIS had decided to write children’s books. Or that…
Never mind, you get the idea. It’s all Ferguson all the time right now, at least in part, perhaps, because the news media folks think we all need to get with the program and start talking about this stuff, seeing it and knowing about it and maybe even doing something about it. (Which is what I think, in case that’s not clear.) But there’s a chance it’s also because they’ve figured out that people will watch live feeds of any kind of conflict, especially if there are guns and tanks in the picture and a chance of their being used. ‘If it bleeds, it leads,’ is still true, after all, and it’s true for a reason: the more people are watching, the more ads the network can sell, and the more they can charge for the ads.
So that’s another reason why we’re seeing so much of it, in my opinion. And since I have it on fairly good authority that the poor we shall always have with us, the strategy of profiting off conflicts that arise out of economic (and other kinds of) inequality will stick around for a while, too, probably. Or anyway it will as long as the “barrier” between advertising and editorial is so…well, I was about to say non-existent, but let’s be charitable and call it porous.
Or we could talk about volcanoes. As luck would have it, there’s one worth talking about right now, called Bardarbunga. It’s in Iceland, way the heck out in the sticks (which most of Iceland is, actually) under a glacier called Vatnajokull, and over the past week or so there’ve been earthquakes around it. Lots and lots of earthquakes, 2600 or so, in fact, enough to make the geologists think something’s about to go kablooey.
Last time an Icelandic earthquake went kablooey , in 2010, the ash in the atmosphere shut down a large chunk of European air travel for ten days. If Bardarbunga should blow, however, it won’t necessarily create an ash cloud. It could just melt a sizable portion of the glacier and cause a huge flood. People are already being evacuated from around the volcano, although at this point it’s only a precaution, so don’t worry. If enormous red-hot smoking boulders start flying out of the volcano called Bardarbunga, I’m sure the news media will let us know. Eventually.