Early this morning, a gunman opened fire on a theater in Colorado, and so far, 12 people have been killed. 38 other are wounded, according to CNN. On multiple news Websites, we can witness the chaos and view people in the theater walking around with blood all over their shirts, thanks to cell phone video.
This "coverage" is shot by citizen journalists and uploaded with obviously great haste by major media outlets, with no warnings, except for one on the CNN.com Website saying "We're not sure about the language in this cell phone video."
We're not warned about the disturbingly graphic scene of a man walking through the lobby, dazed and covered in blood, while a woman in the background screams "he's been shot... there's blood on him!" We're not warned about the wailing and the crying, the sirens and the screaming.
If they had warned the viewer about those things, maybe fewer people would watch. If fewer people watch, revenue is lost.
Some news Websites package these videos on the page alongside other videos and 911 calls from other shootings, so you can easily scroll through the thumbnails and click on tragedies past.
We can read the last words of some of the victims of this new shooting right before they died, because their Twitter feeds are broadcast enthusiastically. "Movie doesn't start for 20 minutes" says one, and we're informed that this Tweeter was one of the unlucky victims.
Social media delivers to us, in real time, the wounded, the dying and the dead in ways it's never been delivered before. We're forced into the scene before the deceased are delivered to the morgue, and before we even have time to absorb the news. We need to question the effects that this real-time witnessing has on us as a society.
Some say the question is "do we want to witness this massacre in real time?" Others say the question is "should we?"