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Friday, January 14, 2005

Stop Sickening Fillers of Aceh Disaster!

It’s been two weeks since earthquake and tsunami devastated Aceh. So it’s been two weeks each and every Indonesian TV stations (excluding GlobalTV) have aired nonstop breaking news on Aceh’s latest condition, plus the used-to-be-heartrending-but-now-disturbing fillers during commercial breaks.

Basically, fillers make good attention-grabbers (they sure have drawn people to raise funds). Who wouldn’t be emotionally moved seeing scenes of thousands cadavers scattered, a whole city smashed, and innumerable homeless victims weep over what’s left of their lives, with tear-jerking background music?

However, this empathy-euphoria (as in Neno Warisman’s term), would not last forever. There will be a point where people are no longer affected by overly repeated messages. As a theory of mass communication says, desensitization.

Some of my co-workers have reported boredom of watching news on TV. Well, we do need updates, but almost-the-same information every hour from each channel for 24/7 is just too much.

And the fillers, please. Aceh was broken apart, yes, but it’s starting a new life now. It’s about time to turn those dreadful fillers into something more encouraging.

We, adults, may only be a bit bored after too many repetitions of Aceh fillers. But God only knows what children would be. I recently listened to a radio show where some parents complained that their children became anxious due to those news and fillers. A child was said to always run to the second floor of the house if the TV started showing sights of the catastrophe. S/he (no gender-specific noun was mentioned) worried that tsunami would hit Jakarta as well.

It’s just one small example of how susceptible children are to what’s around them. Parents should stay with them whenever programs depicting misery and pains are on, to make sure that they feel safe. But TV stations should also limit fillers on Aceh during children time slots, or as I’ve stated, change them into something hope-giving. Numerous children are down with trauma in Aceh. Let’s not make others suffer the same.

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