Should a person’s final journey between this life and the next be filmed and sent around the globe for all to see? In this post, I suggest strongly that it should not. I further imply that, if our own journeys are largely experienced through the medium of a screen, we are not truly present in our own existences!
I had never heard of Spanish matador, Victor Barrio, until his untimely death at the sharpest point of a bull’s horns was broadcast – to my mind with a wanton lack of human feeling – for the whole world to view on Facebook and YouTube (and, for all I know, on all news stations throughout the known universe).
I feel strongly that this latest trend in our response to death is unhealthy, insensitive and intrusive.
It does not matter what one’s views are on bull-fighting. This was a young man, married, with people who loved him – and his death should not have been captured live on other people’s mobile phones and the like.
This is becoming an increasingly popular pastime. Is real life so thin and unsatisfying that we can only get a buzz through the screens of our phones, cameras and video-creating technology? Are we so numbed by years of exposure to the graphic deaths endured by animes (who, of course, pop up again for the next round of the game unblemished) that we can watch a young man being gored to death without flinching?
In many so-called uncivilised societies, men, women and children are brought up close to birth, death and old age. There is both an openness and a reverence about these transformative moments in our lives – and they are viewed in a healthy, non-scary way.
We have made death a taboo. We have buried it in euphemism and undertakers and coffins and terror. We do not routinely allow our children to sit with a dying relative (in our presence) or to view the shell which is left when the animating spirit slips away. We have left huge gaps in our children’s knowledge of this natural process – and, therefore, in their planet-sized imaginations. A vacuum has to be filled.
How do they – and we – make death real and present? We feast our eyes on its most violent representations via XBox, YouTube, news flashes. We inhale blood and maiming and mass shootings on a daily basis – as if that were the only face of life’s ending. We click on a link to watch a twenty-nine year old man being killed by a bull – and few of us stop to think, ‘Why am I watching this? Why did someone film it? Isn’t his wife going through enough grief without this?’
As a race, I fear we are becoming violent-death-obsessed. Death junkies. We need more and more gore to get excited at all. Increasing doses of nastiness to feel that death is real.
Yes, of course people find themselves unexpectedly faced with events such as Victor Barrio’s death. But at that point they have a clear choice: To take out their phones and cameras and start filming, or to desist from so-doing. Having adopted the former strategy, they still have choices later on in the day: To upload that which they have recorded – as a fellow human being lay dying – or to quietly delete it.
What are such video clips adding to the sum of the human experience?
Isn’t it just blatant prurience and gross lack of fellow feeling?
I am choosing not to add an image of Victor Barrio’s demise. I think his final moments have had quite enough exposure already.