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Patrick Greenfield

I am a Politics, Philosophy and Economics student at the University of York and a keen blogger on current affairs and sport. Also a big Spurs fan and an aspiring MadrileƱo.

Boston marathon bombing: Do not be a consumer of terror


I did not want to see it but I could not look away in time. A stunned man staring at the remains of his leg, nerves frayed and bones shattered, being propelled towards an ambulance by a frantic spectator.


Both helped and helper were illuminated by inappropriately beautiful sunlight. The end of the wretched man’s leg reminded me of the twisted steel rods that hang pathetically from concrete encasing in half demolished buildings.


Before the invention of camera phones, the world would never have seen this image. The individual’s dignity would not have been sacrificed to appease our addiction to instantaneous news coverage.


Indeed, we would have all been satisfied with a gruesome textual description and a less eventful photograph with our Cornflakes the next day. As Twitter gawped at the developing horrors in Boylston Street last night, I became increasingly disturbed by the demand for HD, explicit coverage of the terrorist attacks.


Inexplicably, watching Eamonn Holmes speculate about the perpetrators in between horrific repeats of the deadly explosions is addictive
Upon learning that a man has lost his leg in an explosion, does an image of the stomach-churning injury add anything to our understanding of the incident? It has now been announced that an eight-year-old child is among the dead. Would a photo of his shrapnel-encrusted body strengthen the news story?


Nonetheless, as a consumer of these violent images, I am undoubtedly a hypocrite. I have only just been able to tear myself away from Sky News’ coverage of yesterday’s bombings in Boston.


By now I must have seen the explosion over 30 times and, while originally saddened, I have become numb to – and even irritated by – images of the murderous scene.


Oddly, like many others who repeatedly watched the news, I wrongly feel involved in some way. When is the appropriate time to feel happy again? When can I think carefree thoughts and not feel guilty or disrespectful?


I am sure that the endless regurgitation of the murderous horror is to blame. How many times do I need to watch the moment a group of spectators are blown to smithereens?


If there is one thing we have learnt from the events of the last 24 hours, the difference between reporting facts and broadcasting humiliating, inappropriate film sequences that compromise the dignity of victims has been forgotten.


Do not be a consumer of terror.