Thursday, February 07, 2008

People Talking Without Speaking

There was a local shoot-out last night.

A news radio station had an exclusive this morning: a neighbor willing to speak on air about the incident. The neighbor didn’t give his name, so I’m going to call him Billy Bob.

Billy Bob came forward to be interviewed, but wished to remain anonymous.

I kinda get that – shoot-out in the hood where you live, not wanting to get involved. Except Billy Bob has such a distinctive voice and vocal rhythm, I’m guessing the only people who can’t guess his identity are those that don’t live in his neighborhood.

What Billy Bob had to say caught my attention.

Now remember that BB came forward, contacting the studio saying he was ready to talk about the event from the unique pov of a neighbor.

And here’s what he contributed:

He wasn’t there for the event; police warned people to stay away, so he did.

He didn’t know the people living there. He didn’t know what they looked like. He didn’t know how many were there, or if the shooter was one of them.

He didn’t know if kids lived there, or adults for that matter.

His only contact – only contact ever – was he skateboarded by the house once or twice in the past.

He knew nothing at all about the situation.


And yet he contacted the studio to give his account (or lack thereof) of the incident.

I listened with two thoughts battling in my brain:

First, pity for the reporter talking live, trying to make this guy sound interesting.

Second, curiosity and concern: what kind of person, knowing that they don’t know anything, volunteers themselves as an expert on live radio?

Is it an attempt at fifteen minutes of anonymous fame?

Is it just a desire to talk about a horrible incident – filling the void – even when there is nothing to say?

Or is there something even more shallow going on?

Just my thoughts,


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