COLUMN: It’s easy to downplay everything — but should we?

Lindsay Kriz

The first time I heard about Hurricane Sandy was not on, the Weather Channel or even my local TV station. No, the first time I heard about Hurricane Sandy was when I was on my favorite blog and saw a picture of the gigantic storm making its way up the East Coast.

The picture  wasn’t just of the storm, however. It was a picture of Sandy the squirrel, from Spongebob, with her smiling face photoshopped right over the eye of the storm. I was sort of taken aback at first, but then I laughed — oh how I laughed — and saved the picture to my computer. For the next few days, as the storm continued its path towards D.C., New York City and surrounding areas, the jokes kept coming and I kept reposting them and laughing.

Then the pictures started to come in of the devastation, both here and in places like Haiti, which has seen enough destruction in the past few years. Even though I love a good joke as much as the next person, and I hated to be the party pooper, I had to shut my mouth.

It’s easy to make fun of something that doesn’t directly impact us. But when we see the devastation that this storm has caused, including 60-plus deaths so far, we should probably ask ourselves if this is really a joke; and if jokes about this are really appropriate. even wrote two articles about Hurricane Sandy titled “Sandy’s Gift to America: $3 gas” and “Sandy’s Surf A Silver Lining,” about the supposedly wonderful swells that Florida surfers are celebrating. I understand as much as the next person that there can be strength from tragedy, and that good stories can sometimes outweigh the bad.

When I think of good stories that outweigh the bad, I think of people being reunited with family or pets, or miraculous rescue stories. I don’t think of cheaper gas for me at the pump, and I don’t celebrate with surfers in the south.

Being excited about these stories is one thing, but for them to be published in such a positive light can be insensitive.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, of course, is a positive side. It’s been a long time since I have seen an entire country, no, an entire global community ban together to help out those in need. Aid has been pouring in, from the government or otherwise.

I have already received texts from the Red Cross, and have heard amazing stories about those who have chosen the profession of firefighter, nurse, police officer, etc., rescuing and taking care of those who are otherwise helpless.

While the internet can be a place that makes light of tragedies, it can also be a beacon. I have friends who have both been impacted by the storm and those who are desperately checking in with them and attempting to help out. It makes me proud to call these people my friends.

So, yes, many times we make light of serious situations. But in other instances, we can be the beacon in the storm; no pun intended.