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Why Were So Many People Disappointed That Hurricane Irene Wasn’t Worse?

Submitted by on August 29, 2011 – 9:00 amOne Comment

Why do people love watching tragedy unravel so much?

No, I’m not talking about Nicki Minaj‘s outfit at the MTV Video Music Awards last night. Rather, I’m referring to the collective sigh that so many people seemed to breathe after Hurricane Irene came and went this weekend without being as devastating as some people thought it might be. While some people took Irene seriously and treated it like the natural disaster that it was, I came across more than a few people who seemed genuinely disappointed—yes, disappointed!—that Irene didn’t storm up the East Coast of the United States and knock out everything in sight. As if that’s what they were promised on Friday when it became clear that Irene was going to be a problem for more than just the Southeastern part of the U.S.

It got me to thinking: WHY?! Why have we become a nation of people who love to watch tragedy unfold? Is it because we’ve seen I Am Legend too many times? Is it because we listen to music that seems to glorify tragedy? Is it because tragedy is more exciting than triumph, especially when it comes to things like national disaster? I’d say it’s a little bit of all three of those things. But I’d say that whatever the reason, this alarming trend needs to stop.

I personally was most affected by a girl on my Facebook stream who point blank asked, “You call that a hurricane?” after Irene had moved through New Jersey yesterday afternoon. Her Facebook status seemed to indicate that she was upset that her life hadn’t been affected more than it had by Hurricane Irene. While others on my timeline complained about not having power or running water, she seemed more concerned about the fact that she’d gone through so much trouble—because, you know, picking up a few bottles of water and a gallon of milk is such a hassle!—without getting a great life story out of it. Dumb reasoning, right?

I’m sure you saw a lot of the same thing out there. With all the hype surrounding Irene, people were preparing for the worst when Irene started making its’ way up the East Coast on Friday. And that’s to be expected. But it seemed like a lot of those same people were almost praying for the worst once the storm reached their town or city. Which is strange. How did we get to this point? Where do we go from here? And, why do people love watching tragedy unravel so much?

It sounds like Hurricane Irene did more than destroy a bunch of trees this weekend. She also damaged the brain cells of a bunch of Americans who should know better than to pray for tragedy in the face of a disaster. We’ve got enough on our plates these days, folks. So, let’s be a little more mindful of that the next time we look tragedy in the face, okay?

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