One of my favorite songs is “The Boy in the Bubble” by Paul Simon. It’s almost impossible to believe that this was written in the mid 80s. It’s a brilliant, nuanced and prophetic look at the world as it exists today. How did he know?
“The Boy in the Bubble” weaves together a number of concepts, one of which is how we’ve become a species that’s obsessed with viewing, and recording, ourselves:
These are the days of miracle and wonder/ This is the long distance call/The way the camera follows us in slo-mo/The way we look to us all/The way we look to a distant constellation That's dying in a corner of the sky/ These are the days of miracle and wonder and don't cry baby, don't cry, don't cry
Reading some of the recent news from aquatics makes me think of those words.
First there’s Couple Claim Lifeguard at Pool Made Racist Gestures. Ok, so the guy’s obviously a jerk, but it seems like a small thing to base an entire story around. Still, maybe it was a slow news day. Then I saw Swimming pool ordered pregnant mother to remove vest top covering her bump... but let other women stay covered up for religious reasons. This seems more like it should be a Facebook post than an actual piece of journalism, but I guess I’m in the minority because the story received 398 comments. Next came Women say they were kicked out of pool over therapy dog and finally there was the media coverage over the last couple of weeks about women who were told not to breastfeed at the pool.
I see two possibilities here: Either there’s a huge increase in people being treated unfairly at public pools or these stories are being reported on much more often. If the latter is true, then is the increase in news coverage somehow limited to aquatics? I don’t think so. I believe the camera is following all of us in slo-mo, relentlessly recording every injustice in our lives. We hold out these grievances the way a child holds out a cut finger, saying, “Look at this, it hurts, fix it.” And at the same time, we stare in fascination at the pain of others, commenting, comforting or judging according to our natures. These are the days of miracle and wonder indeed.