I don’t understand humans

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.

10 thoughts on “I don’t understand humans

  1. This is something I’ve often wondered about, too. I lived in Niagara when that whole Paul Bernardo serial killer thing was going on and one of the girls he killed lived in our town. You’ve never seen such gnashing of teeth and lamentations. They built an entire park, named it after this girl and erected a big plaque in the middle of the park with her face on it. Yes, it was sad that this young girl died such a terrible death, but the other young girl across the street who died of leukemia is just as dead and her family are just as grief-striken and her life was worth just as much as the murdered girl. I always get a good tongue lashing when I say this stuff in public, so I’m really glad someone finally agrees with me. Thanks

    • Yeah, I’ve had that happen to me. People seem to take it as an offense, when it’s really not meant as one, and look at you like *you’re* the alien.

  2. Excuse me? “Even if it turns out that [Neda’s] death was real…”?? If you had posted this comment last week, it might–might–have been understandable, but by monday it was widely accepted as accurate.What, is this a Democratic conspiracy?While I agreed with your initial regument, you blew it withyour dismissive tone.

    • “Widely accepted” doesn’t equal completely confirmed. On Monday, news articles were still using “alleged” and “apparent” so clearly they understood that nuance. I’m entitled to have an opinion on my blog and I make no apologies for this one, but thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts.

  3. Sometimes a nerve gets struck – in fact there are other videos from last week of other victims of the Basij getting shot. The same intensity did not occur then.

    But like Kitty Genovese – some times there is a tipping point that just (to paraphrase) goes viral

    • True, very true. Mind you, I don’t understand the allure of many things that go viral so I suppose I should get used to this. 😉

  4. Good points Louise.
    It’s all about who needs to spin what. The 9/11 overreaction gave credence to those who rallied for American jingoism. The Katrina deaths gave ammo to those who wanted to discredit Dubya.
    The French and Mahaffey tragedies – well, maybe that’s a bit different due to the incomprehensible horror of the case…
    A deaths or a number of deaths serve as a rallying point – and the same can be said about the death of that young woan in Iran (yeah, I wondered about the whole serendipity of it too but have concluded that it’s likely real).
    Don’t get me started on the whole Princess Di thing…

  5. I’m not sure if this is completely on topic, but I have often thought that people sometimes hide behind these certain public outpourings of grief (like mourning Princess Di or Michael Jackson) because it is easier and safer than dealing with real emotions in their own lives. (This makes sense in my head…not totally sure if it translates.) I’m not necessarily saying the grief isn’t real on some level, but a lot of other emotion gets transferred there. Because a lot of people put walls up and can’t deal with the reality of their own lives and feelings and fears, etc. This is a safer kind of loss to process.

  6. You can absolutely be a robot. I see you’ve already got the logic part down. And imagine how much better you’ll feel when we’re programmed to kill them all. Better days are coming, hang in there.

  7. Pingback: Beam me up, Scotty « Life Begins at 41…or maybe 43

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