“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us,” Selina Kyle seductively whispers to a tuxedo-clad, dapper Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises. Kyle is wearing a duchesse-satin black ball gown and a string of iridescent pearls while she delivers him the message of forthcoming doom and destruction. America, unfortunately, did not have a sultry, masked femme fatale warning us of Hurricane Sandy. We had news anchors, Mayor Bloomberg and Twitter flashing alerts of the brewing phenom. The storm was coming, as Ms. Kyle had foretold, and it hit harder than I could have imagined.
Concealed by the proverbial bubble Stony Brook has granted me, I did not feel the brute force of the hurricane. Monday could have been any other day with the exception of the pitiless gusts of wind but with the added bonus of no classes. The biggest of my worries was a power outage that lasted no more than an hour. As houses incinerated, as people mourned the loss of friends and family, as communities watched in horror as their town was flooded, I had the luxury of enjoying a cold Bud Light Platinum amidst friends equally ignorant of just how lucky we were. The sole complaint echoed campus-wide was the non-existence of Wi-Fi for about a day and that Starbucks was closed making the chance of getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte zero. My family was safe and sound, my friends were surrounding me as we all guzzled beer, and I was untouched by Sandy’s wrath. It was a selfishness perpetuated by the idea that ignorance really is bliss.
On Tuesday, I woke up from this self-imposed state of unawareness. I turned on CNN to watch in sheer horror the footage of flooded Long Island, of destroyed Rockaway, of Staten Island in shambles. Guilt washed over me as I recounted how my complaint of spotty Wi-Fi was the largest of my worries. Worry struck me as I realized I know people in Rockaway, on Long Island, in Staten Island. What was their biggest worry? Certainly not a loss of wireless Internet; their worry might have been a loss of home. As a journalist, I gravitate to the spectacle that is humanity. How can I even claim this as a truth when I was able to act so inhumane and ignorant to those affected by Hurricane Sandy? How could I willingly choose to eschew watching broadcast coverage of the hurricane in favor of guzzling alcohol with friends?
The truth is, in a time where the gaps of communication have been bridged by Twitter and Facebook and humans are more interconnected than they have ever been, we are also in the dark more than ever before. We have CNN, ABC, FOX, and NY1 presenting us with information of importance but choose to watch lowbrow reality television on E! and Bravo. We have the resources to Google anything we want, learn whatever we wish, and to research things unknown to us, but we choose to waste hours away browsing the profiles of friends and strangers on Facebook. We could all be well-educated, socially-aware, sapiosexual-driven creatures (sapiosexual: a love for those with intellect) but instead live by an unwavering conformity to a vicious cycle of laziness. This vicious cycle became the state of Stony Brook campus.
Instead of volunteering with those who have been affected, we had hurricane bangers and indulged our desire to become intoxicated trolls. Rather than coming together to discuss how politics might need more of a focus on global climate issues, we lionized the opening of Starbucks and sprinted to the Union to get our caffeine fixes. This isn’t a lambast of the student population but a lamentation for what I personally could have done to empathize with a situation that luckily didn’t seem to scathe me. I could have sent e-mails and well wishes to friends and family urging them to stay safe when the thought to do so had first crossed my mind, but succumbed to my pressing desire to watch Game of Thrones. I don’t blame myself for my complaints that resonate as viral ‘first world problems’ but blame the bubble that is our golden spoon-fed lives. Sandy is a wake-up call that I have taken too much for granted. Consider the insanity with how gas has now become a luxury that has transformed civil human beings into animalistic creatures (fights have erupted, guns have been brandished). Hurricane Sandy proves that everyone is vulnerable to the wrath of Mother Nature no matter the social echelon they are born into or the color of their skin. Sandy proves how meaningless and provisional humanity and social mobility can be in the face of weather-related tragedy. Any thought of delusional misplaced theory that climate change is not an important issue and is rather a conspiracy has become irrelevant thought and disproven in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. This was a wake-up call. The only problem with wake-up calls, however, is that you always end up falling back asleep again at some point.