An accident occurs along the interstate. Usually on an interstate, metal-colliding-with-metal is going to happen at a high rate of speed, thus increasing the likelihood of injury and/or death. Whether it’s a simple fender-bender or a more serious multi-car pileup with injuries and even fatalities, most drivers respond in a predictable manner.
They react with natural but morbid curiosity. They will avert their eyes from the road to see what has happened. In such instances (even for accidents that occur across the median) normal interstate traffic chokes to a crawl. Like sick voyeurs, we find our eyes irresistibly drawn to the misfortunes (perhaps even bloody misfortunes) of others.
I wonder about this rubbernecking of culture. The death of Robin Williams (see yesterday’s post here) was only the latest example of this phenomenon. First, we had the 24/7 media storm. Not just the simple fact that Williams was dead, but instant retrospectives appeared, featuring his life and artistic portfolio, even online photo displays of the inside of his home. There was an intensity in the examination that felt creepy … almost as if his underwear drawer had been laid bare for public scrutiny. Continue reading “Rubberneck Culture”