Looky losers at fire scenes should get their rubbernecks in check

Published: 4/20/2017 10:00 AM
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BY JENNA WASAKOSKI

THE NEWS-ITEM

jenna_w@newsitem.com

I’m annoyed I feel the need to write this. I addressed this in past articles, but due to recent events, it’s again pertinent.

There is a “hobby” in this area — and I’m sure it’s not just specific to here — that when something happens, whether it be a fire or a building collapse, there are generally three categories of people who are present.

There are those who are responding — 95 percent who are volunteers who drop everything to gear up to help while putting themselves in danger. There are officials and press who need to be there to gather information for ongoing investigation and coverage. Then there are those who are just there to watch — looky losers.

Listen, I’m not going to pretend this phenomenon is ever going to go away; it’s not. People are always going to watch when there is action. But for the love of Pete (and I don’t even know Pete), mind the boundaries.

If you can’t help but watch as someone’s entire life, family heirlooms, pets and personal belongings go up in flames, have at least a shred of decency while you’re being an absolute jerk and stay back.

During Monday’s fire, as I sat in the office collecting information from the scanner, our reporter and photographer at the scene, our reporter mentioned to me there were people who were going under the roped off area with their smartphones to get videos and photos ignoring commands to stay back.

Not tenants. Not firefighters. Not the press — who, trust me, know how to stay out of the way. These were just people who wanted to post to Facebook for likes or to feel important.

Those people are the absolute worst.

How dare you? How dare you gain entertainment while people are volunteering and putting their lives at risk in order to control a situation in which someone’s entire life is in flames, soon to be non-existent.

Here’s something people don’t either understand or aren’t enough of a decent human being to grasp: Most of those people responding to those scenes aren’t getting paid to be there. And those who may be getting paid, aren’t getting paid enough.

Those who criticize firefighters, emergency responders and police — generally on Facebook like the cowards they are — would be the LAST people who would run into a burning building to help.

Instead, they want to post pictures like there’s a contest of who on Facebook got the information on their page first. I’m sorry, but you don’t get a trophy. You don’t deserve anything.

This column is speaking directly about Monday’s fire, but it’s the same when someone passes away or is hurt in an accident. It’s as if there is this grand prize for being the first to post it.

No regard for family members. No regard for people who at any time of the night or day drop everything to help others. No regard for anything but, what? A couple of likes? Some interaction from other Facebook loudmouths who chime in with their “expert opinions.”

You’re honestly gross.

And if this speaks to you, then I am very happy you are reading this because I would like to somehow knock on the door of your empty head and let you know how very inconsiderate you are.

Trust, I know there are people who are there out of concern. I know there are people whose properties are close, or who know people who live in these places. They are there because they are generally worried. They have a heart.

I’m not speaking of those people, I’m talking about the rubbernecking nitwits who have total disregard for what’s actually happening.

When a neighbor of mine passed away in a fire a few years ago near the Friendship Fire station, there were people who had the audacity to say, “The Friendship is right there, how come they couldn’t get in there and save her? They were probably too busy sitting around drinking.”

Ok, right there, that is one of the most irresponsible statements ever made. Do you think firefighters live at their respective stations? This is not New York City. Firemen are not employed and they do not work shifts at the stations and slide down a pole, grab a dalmatian and gear up while running to the truck.

They leave their families, they leave their jobs; they drop it all to help for zero compensation.

It’s beyond offensive people have the audacity to criticize when they’ve never helped. Those people are awful. To quote a lovely gal I know: “They are like the liquid that comes out of the ketchup bottle.”

Imagine when you’re running to be nosey at those scenes it was your house. Those were your belongings. Those were your pets or, the unimaginable, there was one of your family members in there.

How would you feel about people who were ducking under barriers trying to get a “cool video for Facebook?”

Your perspective would 360 immediately.

I know people will not stop coming in droves to watch tragedy; I wish they had the motivation to convene for something positive instead.

Just stay back. Respect there are men and women risking their lives to do a job you would never have the courage to do.

You don’t win the Facebook Post of the Year award; you win the insensitive blockhead prize.

Have respect for other people and yourself.

(Jenna Wasakoski is an assistant editor at The News-Item. Her lifestyle column appears Thursdays.)

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