Sometimes human beings are strange. Like when tragedy hits, such as 9/11, and despite the sadness and shock and grief... they can't help but seek out video of the event. That happened yesterday, when the Indy Racing League saw a spectacular crash claim the life of one of their most promising drivers, as 33-year-old and current Indy 500 champion Dan Weldon died from his injuries.
Dan Weldon IndyCar Series Deadly Crash
It's tragic, heartbreaking, and hard to believe. And maybe that's why there's been such a surge in activity on videos of the incident. There are countless versions of the crash on YouTube--though most are of one of two different angles the race coverage team showed on ABC's broadcast--and a great many of them are rapidly adding up the views on their way to viral status.
And you know what? I think that's okay. I mean... I'm not encouraging you to go seek out videos of tragic events. But I don't think the desire to see footage of a newsworthy tragedy makes the viewer a bad person. To go back to the 9/11 analogy, I know people who turned the TV off around lunch time that day because they couldn't bear to watch any more. And yet, I also know people who went to the other extreme, and couldn't peel themselves away from the 24/7 coverage for several days. Neither group of people is wrong... they just process tragedy differently.
And I don't think viewers of the Indy crash videos are sick or wrong. I don't think they're looking for the video and watching it because they enjoy seeing people suffer... that's preposterous. Instead, sometimes people can't believe a thing has happened if they're not able to see it themselves.
Here are videos representing the two views of the crash, one is from the live broadcast and the other is slow-motion overhead replay footage. Again, the crash (and the footage) is pretty intense and frightening:
[Video removed from YouTube]
Online Video Is This Generation's News Source
It's further proof that online video is the new news channel. It's timely (often immediate), easy to access and share, and offers the most possible variety of coverage of world events. Sure, millions of viewers saw the crash or learned about it on their local evening news... but millions more found out about it on Facebook or Twitter, and saw the crash on YouTube long before the news broadcast began.