POP CULTURE: Why We Love Disaster News

POP CULTURE: Why We Love Disaster News


In another incident today ten people died in a terrible (inaudible) crash there was a huge fireball… Female Reporter: After days of torrential rain the landslide completely buried the house killing the inhabitants, 32 Male Reporter 2: Shortly after take-off the plane’s left-handed jet blew up. Passengers reported hearing a bang before (fades) Female Reporter 2: When the giant crocodile rushed to him and ate his leg in one bite. Alain: We all love watching news of disasters. It’s embarrassing, but true. We like hearing about car crashes, we really love plane crashes, we’re fascinated by landslides, We quite enjoy train dropping incidents, we’re fascinated by deadly scorpions that bite holiday-makers, and we’re really pretty gripped by crocodiles. It all looks like the lowest distraction. What monsters we are; rubber-necking the scenes of tragedy on the worst day of other people’s lives. But it isn’t all trivial. We’re trying to get at something important by looking at tragedy. We’re trying, somehow, to keep in mind that life is fragile for all of us. It might not be a plane crash that finishes us off, or a fierce crocodile. It might just be a slow cancer or the gradual wearing away of time, but it will happen. And yet our lives go wrong because we don’t keep death in mind enough. Death is the most terrible thing, but we can evoke the thought of death to evoke what life should be about. It’s this powerful fact that may be at the back of our minds when we rush to check up on the latest disaster. We’re not being ghoulish. We’re simply searching for the meaning of life. We’re reminding ourselves to do our hopes and talents justice in the time that remains. The thought of death has the power not only to stir our fears, but also to strengthen our resolve to appreciate more fully and use more wisely the present moment. To reform our priorities and to be kind, grateful, and serious. In case tomorrow never comes.

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60 thoughts on “POP CULTURE: Why We Love Disaster News”

  • That certainly "should" be the message we take away from the news, although I doubt that it is the motivation behind it. It seems that our evolutionary mind is simply programmed to pay attention to all things that could potentially pose a threat to our safety, which obviously made a lot of sense in the past. Unfortunately, our eager, caveman mind cannot tell that things we see in the media happening 3000km away should not require as much of our attention.

  • Kasper Selvejer says:

    I find it interesting that the point of this video is completely moot.. it sounds more like wishful thinking, than actual observation.. Because, if one looked at the statistics of anxiety disorder and depression.. A very different image would appear.. Disaster news are not, what you say, they are and they don't do, what you say, they do… In fact, more than anything else: Disaster news is a tool to keep you in check, in a constant state of anxiety and low selfesteem; so that you'll go out and spend more money on things you don't need..

  • I can't say I agree in every case, but it's a nice sentiment none-the-less. I realize this isn't saying we need to focus on tragedy to appreciate life, just that some come to appreciation in that way but I think there's probably a better way. If everyone knew it then the news wouldn't only be filled with tragedy, which is still a valid exploration.

     I used to be an avid news watcher, of both mainstream and alternate news media, then I realized what a negative impact it was having on me. Even though some of it was inspiring in certain ways, I finally recognized the ways it was dragging me down and I decided to change. Life has never been better.  When you spend less and less time focused on negative and more time focusing on all the well being that abounds in this world, there's more inspiration to actually make a positive difference. You see the world through totally different eyes….the world that was always there, you just never noticed it. The way you look at life is much sweeter and filled with greater possibilities and fun which that's kinda the idea, that's why it feels so good. Life's short.  Do what you can about what you can and have as much fun as possible along the way. No bad news required unless you're into that 😉 It's all good…

  • TheHumanBeing Karim says:

    I love disaster news because sometime it brings us together and it is so beautiful to see humans helping eachother, of course it is true that this is not always the case. This was evident after the Indonesian tsunami when the international community sent aid there, and also the typhoon in the Philippines when they were sent aid from all over the world. It is actually quite saddening to know that it takes such horrible disasters to bring us all together to help one another.

  • Even if you don't like what's being said,I still like it so much that lego stop motion is being used. The msg I liked by the way.

  • softladification says:

    This video concerns itself  with accidents or natural disasters.  Perhaps, on a day when there has been a massacre with gunmen attacking the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people and wounding seven in an apparent Islamist attack, you could produce another video. This one doesn't seem entirely relevant under the circumstances.

  • Disaster news is a manufactured story told to pudding headed hunters around a modern day camp fire. Its only purpose is to provide a myriad of alternatives and create confusion over what is real and what is illusion. Is it real or is it Memorex? I would rather listen to a good song at times instead of the campfire box. Roger Hodgson gave good food for thought –
    Hide in your shell
    'Cause the world is out to bleed you for a ride
    What will you gain, making your life a little longer?
    Heaven or Hell, was the journey cold
    that gave you eyes of steel?
    Shelter behind, painting your mind, you're playing joker

    Too frightening to listen to a stranger
    Too beautiful to put your pride in danger
    You're waiting for someone to understand you
    But you've got demons in your closet
    (You've got demons in your closet)
    And you're screaming out to stop it
    (And you're screaming out to stop it)
    Saying life's begun to cheat you
    Friends are out to beat you
    Grab on to what you can scramble for

    Don't let the tears linger on inside now
    'Cause it's sure time you gained control
    If I can help you, if I can help you
    If I can help you, just let me know
    Well let me show you the nearest signpost
    To get your heart back and on the road
    If I can help you, if I can help you
    If I can help you, just let me know…

  • I do not agree with that. I don't like disaster news and I don't need it to feel better about my own life or be reminded that life is short. It's like laughing about someone falling. It shouldn't make people happier to see this. 

  • Disaster sociologist Rebecca Solnit has a book called " A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster". In an interview  she says  that "after disasters, we become our true, our better selves, we get an internal transformation, an awakening, awareness of mortality, a solidarity that a Buddhist monk would call compassion for all beings, lack of attachment to material goods and to past and future. There is a real depth to people's experience. We crave a depth of connection with each other, a depth of meaning to what we do with our lives. And people find that depth in disaster".
    Thanks for the wonderful lesson!
    Of course we can't be looking forward for the next disaster, but  we should constantly be searching for that depth and meaning in our lives and remember that we have a better self within us which could come to the surface if we always reminded ourselves of what really matters: which I guess is death and love (in its broadest sense) . Otherwise our life definitely will become a silent disaster itself from which we may only wake up at the very last moment. When there will be no time to look for that " better self" inside,  which will perish with us!

  • I don't know what kind of sick person LOVES watching news about disasters but I'm not one of them. It's one thing to be concerned about it but another thing to love it…

  • yeah, i dont know about you but, i dont enjoy disaster news in anyway shape or form. And im pretty sure most of it is just a ploy to keep people in a state of fear. Surviving a disaster however might probably have this effect on you, or maybe even just a minor conflict. Maybe its the feeling of enhanced meaning that is enjoyed i guess? i didn't finish the video

  • People crave disaster and violence because, subconsciously or not, they are homicidally enraged themselves. Conditioning a naturally and mainly selfish being into society breaks him/her psychologically. Becoming part of the whole means subverting and devaluing the self, so they reflect their broken selves and subconsciousness into self harm, violent media, disaster news, etc. A devalued person wants to see other people devalued, and craves seeing people going through external pain equal to that of their own internal anguish. It excites them, it feels good and cathartic for them. Of course, most people direct this violence and self-brokenness in socially acceptable ways such as self harm (Cutting, starving, drug abuse, etc), hunting for sport, sports in general, war, and violent programming/games, but some are more honest about their mental derangement and go out and kill/rape/torture other people, without the blessing of society. These are what we call antisocial people, because they reflect their rage against their society in ways that are considered unacceptable by said society.   

    This idea that people crave disaster and violent news to ponder the great questions of life is simply a piece of pop philosophy that fails to answer any real questions. You want violence and disaster to end? You want peace on Earth? Then you must look deeply into every dark corner of the human subconscious. Painting a pretty picture of the human psyche over the truth only serves to blind us from the real problem, thereby inhibiting any real solutions. Peace on Earth hasn't been achieved yet because humans are too proud and too emotionally attached to romantic, feel good philosophies to actually and honestly analyze themselves and find real solutions. Optimism will be the death of us.

  • One thing that troubles me is: people need work sometimes a senseless job to help build a society where everyone produces to help others but at same time that job can be hopeless and boring, not fulfilling the real sense of life. Someone has a clue a better way of living?

  • This is a very positive view point. We enjoy disaster news for the same reason many of us enjoy drama, scary movies, and other things. It's exciting, and gives us a thrill, in comparison to our boring, safe, and otherwise uneventful and safe lives. Because "we" most likely refers to the middle class chump. 

  • No, I think you've missed the point. It comes from the morbid satisfaction of humans to watch others suffer because they are not in the sufferer's position. In other words, vicarious behavior. It's quite sick really, and it has been around as long as humans have been around. Why do you think people liked watching guys getting eaten alive by lions at the colosseum or witches burning at the stake? It's that deep, morbid pleasure, which of course, has been masked throughout the centuries with religion, politics and pseudo-philosophical/moral arguments much like yours. Don't be so optimistic, at least not about this.

  • Dylan McGannon says:

    I don't think people enjoy hearing about disasters because they enjoy contemplating the meaning of life in an effort towards self-improvement. At least not everyone. I doubt people really put that much thoughtfulness into it, I certainly don't.

    Other people have commented that people enjoy seeing others fail because it somehow makes them feel better then themselves, I disagree with that as well. Sure there might be some people who feel this way but it seems quite malicious and outlandish.

    I personally enjoy disaster news because it describes an aspect of life that is completely removed from my every day experience. I could never expect to experience a plane crash or a major natural disaster, but through reading about these things I can do so vicariously. In short, I enjoy reading about these types of events because it sets of my imagination.

  • Milos Vasiljevic says:

    Disaster news makes a lot people feel better about themselves ,they saw that someone is suffering more than them.
    For same reasons they like to see other people fail.
    If you lose your job or get divorced ,very soon the entire neighborhood will gossip about that. They are feeding on human misery ,and that wrong for both them and miser-full people.
    You should focus on making your life better and fulfilled by achieving your desires and needs ,not to ease your suffering by watching other people suffer.

  • Watching things that frighten you triggers an adrenaline response.

    Your body likes it regardless of where it comes from. Too much, though, like oxygen, shorts it out.

    It's why many gamblers play obsessively.

    It's also the push-pull of Candy Crush.

  • FormerCookieMonster says:

    Only non morbid way someone could "enjoy" watching disaster news is for learning purposes. You can't have knowledge on every dangerous situation that might occur to you. So you learn from other people's mistakes too.

  • sean_the_great48 says:

    I hate it when they always say death is the most horrible thing, I know it is hard to go into the unknown or watch family pass on, but if you have any faith it can be a good thing, a moving on to the new.

  • i dont check the news for disasters and that. That is just what the news puts out and not what i want. i rather look at interesting cultural stuff, initiatives or even just unusual stories. tech news and science news is good too.

  • I think paying attention to incidents is the consequence of the evolution, human needs to be aware of the potential danger. And if it's shocking it will get more attention

  • Hey School of Life. I wholeheartedly disagree with the statement you made at 1:16. Death is NOT the most terrible thing. By far. To name one thing that is worse, the American Prison System. You'll hear loads of people say, "i wish i was dead", and some even commit to that idea i.e. suicide. But you never hear anyone say, "oh man im so fed up of life, I just wanna go to jail"

  • This was a nice way to put it. I thought it was going to say that deep down we are cynical creatures who find enjoyment in seeing others have worst times than ourselves.

  • What PC. Car, plane and train crashes and man-eating crocs are passe and blase, especially in non-White, developing countries. People these days are turned on by mass-shootings, mass-killings, terror attacks and car careening — and what race/ethnicity the perpetrator is — particularly in White developed countries.

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