'Florida man' reads column, uses newspaper to build giant birds' nest

Anyone who follows the news even casually has seen headlines begin with "Florida Man" or "Arizona Man." They usually end in some ridiculous newsworthy account. Florida Man is the far more prolific of the two; he even has his own Twitter account.

Some of these men are sad and some are inept but most are just bizarre.

What brings them into the news? Why does the "Florida Man" reign of terror never seem to end?

Florida represents the nation at large because of its population dynamics. It has a large, diverse and growing population. More often, people want to live in places like Florida, and more people in Florida (as in the U.S.) are likely to be Hispanic. Florida is not that different from the rest of the country, yet it gets a reputation for its criminal male population.

This is in large part thanks to the media.

Our national news organizations go for the wild stories. They like it when a man hides cocaine in his prosthetic leg. They love it when somehow Florida Man's girlfriend (Florida Woman?) is involved in the story.

All these stories make great filler and contain the voyeuristic quality that news organizations depend upon.

Our media operation likes quick topical stories that grab people's attention, even if it means forgoing any larger conversations and distracts from larger stories, such as a recent buildup of missile defenses by the U.S. to counter any North Korean nuclear missiles that may come our way.

Crime in this country is treated with pity and contempt. We do not believe that our corrections system really works. The media again turns the mirror upon us and shows us the ridiculous crimes committed without any repercussions.

Florida Man's trials and triumphs amount to nothing than a by-line on a newspaper or a link on Google News.

This travesty elevates petty and stupid criminals while not trying to solve anything that is actually wrong in our society and really misleads the public into thinking these men are really just doing these things for our enjoyment.

The group of men known only as "Florida Man" have lives, (most of the time) girlfriends and probably have something really wrong with them.

More recently, however, Florida Man was brought to a dramatic end without a conclusion in the media other than his untimely death. He was in his bed and a sinkhole ate him.

He will continue to live on in our hearts and minds and will hopefully inspire a longer look at subjects as diverse as the national media, corrections systems and what drives people to crime.

 

Reach the columnist at peter.northfelt@asu.edu or follow him at @peternorthfelt

 

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