Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Maze in My Mind

It's funny how the mind works.

I was driving to work the other day, crossing this bridge. I noticed for the first time that there is a chain link fence around the top of the bridge, I guess to deter jumpers. But, the fence only covers a small part of the bridge, and most of the bridge has no fence.

I couldn't understand how that was going to stop a suicide. From there, I started thinking about a story I read recently about how folks in Cali were insulting a man who eventually committed suicide outside of a building. They were egging dude on, daring him to jump, laughing at his distress and even taking pictures. The guy finally jumped and died, and some folks were appalled at the callous nature of their peers.

I started wondering what kind of person could find impending death humorous. Who thinks it's a good idea to taunt somebody who is contemplating ending their lives? What's the daily mindset of those folks? Are they normally evil and crass, or were they caught up by the mob and behaving in an atypical manner?

Mob rule is beast. I understand how crowds allow us to wallow in our worst impulses. I've done some crazy stuff in a crowd because of the supposed anonymity the larger group provides. But, I've never let a crowd convince that it's a good idea for somebody to die. Not yet at least.

What does it say about our society that many of us view death as a spectator sport? Is that really a new thing, or has it been a part of society all along? I mean, bloodsports weren't invented yesterday, and watching somebody commit suicide is really just another bloodsport. I guess it makes sense that if we are ok with watching two men or women pummel each other until one of them is unconscious or submits, then cheering for a suicide isn't that big of a leap.

But it feels like a massive leap. It feels like a core breakdown in human empathy. I realize that I am woefully unequipped to examine human pysches over the millenia, but it feels like a serious issue when people cheer for the death of the vulnerable. It feels slimy.

Oh well, that's just the kind of thing that runs through my mind during rush hour.



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3 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

"What does it say about our society that many of us view death as a spectator sport? Is that really a new thing, or has it been a part of society all along?"

Gladiators, dude. in the Roman age (not sure about the Greeks), the Romans loved watching human gladiators go into a fight with wild animals or with each other and they had to fight each other until someone die. It's really f--king horrible.

Mob mentality disgusts me. There's nothing funny about suicide or death. I would be horrified if a man was about to jump off a ledge. I would never laugh or taunt him.

People make me sick.

LisaMJ said...

That is truly horrible. That poor man. To be in so much pain to want to take his own life and then to have people taunting him and probably feeding into whatever feelings of rejection and being unloved he may have already had. So sad. I feel sorry for him and I feel sorry for those people who taunted him too b/c obviously something went very wrong in their lives and they either saw some horrible things or had horrible things done to them or they were just mentally ill. What a horrible way to go through life. It makes me sad to think of people being that messed up inside.

You are right about mobs, crowds make me very uneasy and I always worry about being stampeded in them or someone falling and not being able to get up. Sometimes crowds can be kind of fun like at a show or something but they are always intimidating. I really hope to never be in a crowd like that.

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