Ignorance or Insult and Does It Matter?

I’ve got a thick skin and I’ve learned to stop saying “I’ve seen it all” because I’ve seen too much in my years working in local news. For a large part, I’m unhealthily immune to shocking stuff and while I experience all the normal emotions I have a coping mechanism that allows me to push it down to deep dark places to address later.

Then Saturday night came and I was sick to my stomach. Literally felt the churn and eyed the trash can.

What Made This Different?

One thing to note is that I am a video game nerd. While I never transitioned to the social side of it, playing with others a world away, I have always had the latest gaming system in my home since I was 10 years old.

Babbage’s, which became GameStop, was my lifeline for a world beyond the boring Midwest where I grew up and an escape from real world issues into a mushroom-eating, rouge princess searching world.

Saturday night I saw a story that I knew had to be fake. It was a report that Game Stop had an NFT of “Falling Man.” I’m not going to show to it here because it would be in the realm of disrespect that had me dry heaving. I also no longer have to live in a world of click bait, shocking for shocking sake, or ethical looseness that made me just as nauseated.

The photo was a doctored image of the “Falling Man” from 9/11. Stolen. Doctored. Copyright Violated. For Sale.

Context is Critical

Perhaps it’s because all the 9/11 emotions and memories that I shoved deep down burp up from time to time. It might trigger how I felt when I watched the journalist who took the poignant “Falling Man” photo discuss the process and debate over what to publish, how much to publish, and which one to publish.

A small portion of an interview with Richard Drew, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist.

You see, in the world of journalism, we “shoot now, decide later.” You must GET the shot and THEN later decide if it ever sees the light shined in dark corners.

The “Falling Man” image was one of many that were taken that day, even of that same man, resigned to a fate worth than the death that met him at either end of a decision. Burn to death or jump to your death. Make your own decision or let the fiery hell decide for you.

Yet, in 2022, there is sat in front of me, wrapped in the copyright-violating ethically-strained global craze for NFTs. The figure of the man that became the single signal of the terror humans experienced that day was now donning an outfit of a race car driver or maybe it was an astronaut. It doesn’t matter. It was offensive.

Being a leader for so long, I know there are sides to every story and then sides to the sides of the story. I asked myself, “Was this maybe a young person who wasn’t even alive in 2001 or was too young to remember? Could it be someone who thinks fake news is all news really is and has a complete ignorance of any history that doesn’t include a filter and hip song?”

Then I had to ask the toughest questions – does it matter? Does the motive mean anything when even at breakfast the next morning I still have no appetite?

Here’s the kicker for me – the photo had a joke about a Russian falling from the MIR Space Station. Not only was the picture offensive in the NFT realm, it was punctuated with something that was meant to make you laugh.

GameStop, Get Your $#it Together

Writing this on a Sunday morning, GameStop has since removed the NFT. While the link to the page where it once existed is there there, the page is empty. The image was captured enough to still soar across “Hot Topics” on many news sites.

However, GameStop has made no comment. You can’t even assume they are asleep at the wheel because it’s a weekend since they had time to post this:

Is it GameStop’s fault? No. The company rep’s didn’t post it. However, someone at the site managed by GameStop had to approve it. It lasted for 11 days, leaving any hope that a back-up system of validation was in place.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

We are webbed into a world where you can’t tell if a “Caught on Camera” video is staged or real. We call anything we don’t like “Fake News.” We curse the art of journalism for being biased, yet we watch it enough to continue the complaints. We demand authenticity yet produce very little that is authentic. We have people who think “Falling Man” is a meme-maker.

In the midst of generational wars we need a generational melting pot. We are so “woke” we accept gender spectrums and rage against social injustice. Yet some people are blissfully (and I mean that in the worst way possible) unaware of the road and the photos that got us to this place.

Do better. Be better. Learn from this. Choose to never be ignorant. Choose to learn. Choose to address conflict head-on. Choose to apologize, even when your company is a sinking ship.

Or maybe we should just turn the Titanic into a meme for GameStop and minimize the tragedy of that too.

I Don’t Know What My Point Is, But I Know I Had to Write

Just thoughts. Swirling, confusing, betrayed thoughts. Just had to get them out of my head. Just hurting for all the people who still feel 9/11 in their souls and with every creak of their aging bones. Hurting for the families who have to relive this again and take the phone calls or hide from the reporters asking for a reaction.

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