Why Does Death Always Go Viral?

Online videos are the new 'snuff films'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2010 12:02 PM CDT
Updated May 19, 2010 1:57 PM CDT
Why Does Death Always Go Viral?
Undated file image from a video that was widely circulated on the Internet via YouTube and Twitter June 21, 2009 reportedly showing a badly injured girl identified as Neda.   (AP Photo, File)

The world couldn’t stop watching when video emerged of an American woman drowning, swept away by a wave, after pushing her son to safety. We were equally transfixed by footage of an Olympic hopeful’s fatal luge crash and an Iranian protester’s violent shooting death. “Nothing goes viral quite like death,” writes Mary Elizabeth Williams on Salon, and “never before in history have we had the ability to gorge on the snuffing of human life with such unnerving ease.”

YouTube offers “a veritable smorgasbord of death—bullfights, shootings, car accidents, take your pick,” and the reasons for publicizing death scenes aren’t always noble. Usually, they’re just shown “because, holy shit.” The reminder that life is fragile “is humbling and frightening,” sure—but we should also remember while watching and re-watching that “we're all just a security camera or cellphone away from having our last breaths uploaded onto YouTube.”
(More death stories.)

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