Death: Why Should I Care?

Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009, 9:35 AM


Here's a truth we cannot deny. Everybody dies.

There's not a single person on this planet who will not die, most within fifty years from now, some within 80 years from now, and for a few it will be closer to 100 years or so from now.

But then, some will die in a matter of months, weeks, or even days. Heck, just today there will be approximately 150,000 deaths. (However, there will also be about 200,000 births, just to even things up somewhat)

I may even die today, or tomorrow, or sometime within the next three months. Though statistics say that most people, barring those with predictive illnesses, have a 99.9% chance of living for another year.

Of the 150,000 deaths per day, we might hear about ten or fifteen of them in our local News. Usually all we hear about are the traffic accidents, plane crashes, natural disasters, and murders. And we also hear of when the famous die, however mundane the cause may be.

The rest of the deaths go unremarked upon, and yet we are supposed to care about the deaths that are reported in the News. The articles are written as though we should care, they play on our sympathies with photographs and comments from family members of the deceased, or worse, music montages. But I don't know these people! Why should I care one whit that a stranger died in a perfectly ordinary way, much like thousands of others have done before them?

Fair enough on reporting a spectacular incident, that may have resulted in deaths. The recent plane crash in Papua New Guinea is certainly an event worth reporting on.

But I don't care about the people who died! They are strangers to me! Don't try the sympathy angle, it's not going to work. And it was an accident! It's not like it will make any difference to anybody's travel plans, or that we have any power over preventing it from reoccurring!

Fair enough if it was a terrorist attack, or something like the bushfire deaths that occurred in February, that it should be reported on and analysed, where we ought to be warned. Undoubtedly that is significant News. But the people involved died just like any stranger dies; by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, circumstances having overwhelmed them. Telling me who they are and trying to play on my emotions is not going to help anyone involved in a similar situation in the future.

People die. If I don't have a tangential connection to them, I don't care a jot. Even if they had a very short innings in life, that still isn't enough of an excuse to try to get me to shed a tear.

2 Reasoned Responses:

Anonymous said...

Have spoken to all the news directors in the country from now on only deaths involving people you care about will be reported in the news.

GuanoLad said...

Reporting deaths is fine and dandy, and arguably necessary.

My problem is they attempt to elicit sympathy out of me, and it's a foolish, transparent waste of time.

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