When I was young, the dream of my life was to have a Walkie-Talkie. My Afikomen request was forever a two-way radio. I imagined myself communicating with my friends on radios – impersonating police officers, Hatzolah members and other officials. I watched as pal after pal got the ever wishful gift, yet my wish never materialized.
I grew up, and the wish disappeared with time. As I matured and entered my teenage years, I watched as my acquaintances upgraded their Walkie-Talkies to scanners. Whether it was a Ham radio or just another scanner set to a frequency, they felt bigger than ever as they monitored each major incident or action scene. I thought of it as another immature trend that will stop with time; as trends come and go, I figured that this too will soon be gone.
I was wrong. They are still buffing and monitoring the emergency channels as in their adolescence. They yet upgraded their scanners with the flux of technology and it has now become Twitter, Blackberry and other means of modern communication instead. I was shocked to learn that there are even websites dedicated to “buffers.” These associates never grew up and remained “wanna-bees.” Some of them even went on to set up organizations based on buffing calls. I started thinking of it as more than just another phenomenon; it became a disgusting trend that has to be stopped.
I always had the fear to call Hatzolah. Who doesn’t?! Everyone wishes best for their family and prays for the wellbeing of their loved ones. Although we’re all grateful that Hatzolah exists, nevertheless, we fear the phone call. However, my scare is more than just fear – it is intense fright; I shudder to think of the day that I will have to place the call. Within seconds, thousands of individuals will get the message with my address and situation to their phones. Minutes later a post will be posted on buffing websites — documented forever. Gone is the privacy; gone is the confidentiality. People with no means of assistance will talk about the motor vehicle accident that had me involved, and gossip will fill spread regarding the incident. I tremble to think about it, yet I know that hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have the same fear – materialized – every day.
The trend is even more troubling when tragedy strikes. Within seconds of a casualty, rumors fill the streets with incorrect facts and information. The response isn’t one of remorse and grief rather gossip and blather. Theories originate and opinions become facts as the bereaved family looks in horror. Their indescribable shame and humiliation is public as those buffers witness confidential information. Emergency codes and terminology are interpreted to fit their thesis, as the deceased’s name is disgraced forever. While the authorities investigate the matter, the buffers already have concluded what has happened. The tragedy passes on, but the wound is there forever. A new tragedy strikes and another family is affected while the former are still reeling from shock.
While the poskim maintain that we give a person the benefit of doubt, particularly in the case of a factual suicide, the buffers don’t. They literally enjoy talking about other peoples’ sorrow as the gossip spreads. My question is this: would these buffers want the same? Would they want the same disingenuous facts out in public when it’s themselves or their loved one? This is a dangerous trend that must be stopped in time; too many families have already suffered the fate of “buffer stories,” and it’s time for them to grow up!
Disgusted With Buffers