Friday, June 22, 2007
My sense of why people are so fascinated by injuries in amusement parks is because of the nature of the attractions: we're going there to feel that we are at risk without actually being at risk. Our hearts race and our adrenalin surges because our body believes we are in danger. This escapism -- the tendency to be carefree -- is encouraged by the parks (for good reasons). So when the perceived risk turns out to be a real risk, or when our carefree decisions turn out to cause harm to ourselves (not that that's what happened in Kentucky), it's a much bigger shock -- and gets more coverage than the proportional risk would otherwise justify -- than when someone engaging in an undeniably risky activity gets hurt.
It's not just media sensationalism, in other words. Or if it is sensationalism, it's grounded in what I think is a natural instinct among the public (and the reporters).