The real tragedy

We probably all remember the time last year when we heard about the death of Princess Diana. Some of us remember where we were; some of us may not even have cared she was gone.

But there are probably very few who don't remember the deluge of media coverage in the wake of the princess' death. First, there were the breaking news reports on all cable (and most network) news channels. They lasted all night, helped along by "experts" (the ubiquitous people in ties who are available around the clock to comment on anything), live feeds from the BBC, editors of publications related to the royals - anything.

We watched as live shots showed Diana's body being transported back to England, and a couple of days later, we saw people line the streets of London to watch her funeral cortege pass. Mother Theresa died sometime in there, which gave the media the rare chance to combine the images of the two in one sorrowful graphic.

Then - it's hard to say when, but not too much time had passed - it was gone. The media moved on to more pressing topics and little more was said about Diana, with the exception of the occasional news report regarding the investigation into her death or the state of the royal family.

Now, one year later, we're again being assaulted with Di items, which remind us of her death in all its tragic detail. There's even a Princess Di-inspired Beanie Baby, which in our society is the zenith of fame.

But how long will it take for us to forget about her death yet again? And what about the passengers of the SwissAir flight that crashed early Thursday morning? How long before we forget about the people who perished in that disaster?

As a nation - and perhaps a world - we've forgotten how to mourn. Yes, we apparently love to do it. A look at the nonstop coverage that accompanies any death of national (or worldwide) importance will tell us that. But when it's over with - when the live feeds and electronic bulletins and constant filming are done - we forget.

It's something no one can change. It is just another aspect of our modern world, a world in which information is transmitted, processed and discarded at speeds that make our heads spin. We are exposed to so much information every day that we can't spend too much time on any one piece of it, lest we be bogged down in a black hole of facts, figures and opinions.

What a shame, though, that the death of someone who really should have been mourned for was turned into a media assault. And what a shame that our society has reduced death to just another set of images flickering across our TV and computer screens.

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