You’re driving along a street, fretting over all the things you need to be done today. Traffic starts to slow down, eventually taking the pace of a crawl. You start to get agitated. Why now? You’ve got things to do, places to be! You see flashing lights ahead, and suddenly it dawns on you: there is an accident ahead. How do you feel?
When it’s your turn to pass by the crash scene, do you crane your neck to see what’s going on, or do you avert your gaze and ignore the scene completely? If you’re one of those people who look every time, what do you hope to see? Wreckage? Triggered airbags? Blood? Dead bodies?
Why are we so fascinated with the “bad” stuff?
It’s the same thing with accidents-to-be. Some people close their eyes, or turn away, but other just stare wide-eyed, frozen, often wanting, willing too look away, but unable to do so. It’s like seeing two trains on the same track, heading straight towards each other. There is something magnetic about disasters that keep so many of us just glued. It’s not that they entertains us, amuses us, or that we even like them—It’s just that, well, we can’t pull away.
For some, it’s the TV coverage on disasters like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina that we can’t seem to tear away from. It appalls us, grieves us, makes us sick to our stomaches, but we don’t (or can’t) stop watching.
We cling to every heartbreaking clip, every shocking picture, and every nauseating piece of news, forcing ourselves to sit through a blow-by-blow account of what happened, what is happening, and the implications of everything that has happened thus far. It leaves us feeling sad, sick, angry, upset, and every other conceivable negative emotion, and yet we still watch.
We could keep ourselves informed of such disasters through non-descriptive newsfeeds sans the multimedia, but instead, we choose the form that envelopes us in the horror.
For me, my morbid fascination is airline crashes. It is most puzzling to me because up until a few years ago, I was terrified of flying. Now, years later, I’m… not. I love planes, airports, security checkpoints (that’s another story all in itself), and landings. I also love researching plane crashes, strange and unexplainable plane issues and disasters (ever heard of that Hawaiian flight between Islands that had the top half of the plane—the roof—ripped out mid-flight? Everyone except one flight attendant survived) and watching Mayday.
I think having a couple pilots as friends and acquaintances helped a great deal. That, and just getting up there and flying; when you’re in a plane every couple months, the whole ordeal becomes routine procedure quickly, much like driving. However, after reading about the statistics on plane crashes and learning that the majority of complications occur during take off and landing, I still find myself a tad nervous during accent and decent. Why do I subject myself to useless knowledge? I choke it up to an insatiably curious nature: I must know everything, even if the newfound knowledge has a negative impact on me. Knowing which airlines have had crashes and which have not, or looking up videos/pictures/investigation notes from those crashes is essentially “useless” knowledge, but I pursue it anyway.
So, I ask you: Why do you think people are oddly fascinated with morbid things? Do you have any morbid fascinations? If so, what are they?