A guy (expatriate American?) on Facebook decided we weren't seeing enough "real" tsunami footage over here and posted this video he recorded from a Japanese TV network. The video shows the incredible magnitude and power of the tsunami as it starts from just a gush of water across pavement to a raging torrent pushing everything before it in its path. What's most interesting though, perhaps, is the commentary below the video on the guy's Facebook page. Thousands of people posted anguished exhortations to persevere and remain strong addressed to the "victims" shown in the video, and wailed prayers (symbolically via typed words) to God to comfort and heal the Japanese people.
Aside from the clearly ludicrous aspects of posting your comments intended for the Japanese people affected by this natural catastrophe on a stranger living in Tokyo's Facebook page below a video he recorded from TV, I think a good deal of the poorly expressed outpourings of sympathy left below his video can be explained by reasoning the average "modern"(?) individual lacks any real experience vocalizing their reaction to something this catastrophic, and thus they resort to cliched phrases of empathy and condolence as a matter of course.
I wonder though what psychic gap - also created by lack of experience perhaps - there is in the "average" viewer's comprehension of the events they are seeing, and thus their emotional reaction to it, as there's no visual evidence of any human or other creature being hurt or killed in this video, yet commenters nearly universally bewailed the terrible tragedy and loss of human life/well-being after viewing it. Certainly it makes sense given they are extrapolating out from this particular video to the events transpiring elsewhere while it was being shot and thus including the high number of lives lost, homes destroyed, etc. in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami together. However, all of this together really makes me wonder:
- how closely we associate the destruction of our things with our own (or others) destruction,
- how unthinking and knee-jerk the vast majority of people's reactions to this disaster (and others) are and why (are we all numb? unthinking? not present? too quick to say, "God help them." and then tuck back into our own lives, freed of any commitment to our fellow man?)
- whether these verbal/typed outpourings and proclamations of support are nearly as cathartic as they are melodramatic.