The alleged* death of Neda Agha-Soltan in the Iran protests reminds me yet again how much I just don’t understand humans as a species, despite being one (last time I checked, anyway). The instantaneous and excessive grief shown by people in the news, in blogs, and on social networking sites is mind boggling. If this video really did show the final seconds of this young woman’s life, ultimately she was just one woman, just one death in a world that sees thousands of deaths daily. Why should the circumstances of her death make her more grief-worthy than someone else? Being at that spot at that time does not make her a hero; it makes her at best an unfortunate victim. The fact that this is becoming an Internet phenomenon makes me a little bit sad for the future of the human race.
How did the 2000+ Hurricane Katrina deaths in 2005 completely overtake the sheer horror of 230,000 lives lost in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake? Why did the 3000+ deaths on 9/11 merit more grief and global histrionics than the other estimated 150,000 people who died worldwide that day. (I understand the global effect of 9/11 — war, retaliation, etc. I’m talking about the immediate visceral sorrow people expressed.) Even if you’re American and more hard hit by the loss of Americans, why do the roughly 2600 Americans who die every day not matter as much? You could say you don’t know them, but most of you didn’t personally know someone who died on 9/11 or in Hurricane Katrina. It reminds me of the outpouring of weepy sentiment when Lady Diana died. Forget the thousands of other human beings who died that day.
This is the same confusion I experience when I ask why the world thinks baby seals are worth fighting to save but cows, rabbits, and other food or nuisance animals are not.
I’m beginning to wonder about this species we’re all a part of.
Mayo, can I be a robot, too?
* I say “alleged” because, having seen the video, I can’t say that I believe that the video shows a woman actually dying. That’s not to say that I know it doesn’t, merely that I’m not convinced. The camera work feels too much like something Cris Angel would try to pull. And the timing is convenient, occuring just when a martyr was needed to spur the protesters. Even if it turns out to be a real death, the hoopla surrounding it still reeks of propaganda and that makes me a little suspicious.