When I was little there was a war going on. I did not know it. In fact, I did not know anything about the Vietnam conflict being fought in my lifetime until I was in high school and we studied it and I realized that it had happened during my entire childhood. How, you may ask yourself, can a child grow up to be ten years old and not know there was a war going on? Well, you see, we lived on the family farm in Tennessee. We did not have a phone in our house. The nearest house to ours was my grandparents house and it was a quarter mile away on a dirt and gravel road. No newspaper delivery boy came to our front door. The mailman delivered our mail in town and my father picked it up once a week on his way home from work. We had one car, and if mom needed it, she drove dad to work and she picked him up. He worked 16 hour days, so she rarely needed the car. We did not get a TV until I was 5 and then it was used only to entertain me. And that was sparingly. Mom had a child at home who could die at any minute. She didn’t have a phone or car. She did not need images of war coming into her home where no one was standing by to tell her everything was going to be all right. So she simply did not turn on the TV during the hours that the news was on. It was easy in those days. The news came on at 5 and 10 pm.
But today the news is on 24/7 and they repeat it over and over and over again until even the simplest event becomes so blown out of proportion that it seems bigger than life.
But instant news is also a good thing for us genealogists. It means we can be up to date on the latest genealogical news as it is happening. It means we don’t have to wait until our society meetings to hear of a new database, or product that is on the market. We can decide for ourselves if it has merit. With RSS feeds, we can have the internet bring the news to us in our inboxes each morning. I can tell the internet what I want to read, and it hand deliveries that information to me, practically on a silver platter. Imagine if Mom could have watched the sports and weather, but could have skipped the war report each day.
Yes, instant information can be a good thing, or a bad thing. How you filter the information and how you let it affect you are what matters. Mom knew a war was going on. She had relatives there fighting. She was worried, but watching the news wasn’t going to change what was happening. Keeping me from seeing horrible images that were inappropriate for a young child was more important to her. And in time I did learn about the Vietnam war. I did learn it was during my lifetime. I did learn of it’s horrors. I just didn’t learn of it at an age when I should have been learning my ABCs. I wish it had been that easy to have filtered the news when my youngest was 4 and the twin towers fell.