Death on screen

Michel Claessens
Michel ClaessensEditor in chief

Some sociologists believe that we are living in a society of fear, and recent events certainly seem to bear them out. We have lost count of the number of virtual crises and incidents hyped by the media. Health alerts, natural disasters and technical failures all fuel fear – the cause or origin of all this media hype. We experienced it yet again this summer when a series of air crashes happened over just a few weeks. Should we be afraid of flying? The answer is no – or at least only a little afraid (as there is always the risk of an accident, however small). The problem with fear lies in the way it is perceived.

Technical accidents such as air crashes certainly grab our attention, starting with the media. But after the initial fright stoked up by the media, time and distance allow us to gain some perspective. Every day 60 000 people worldwide die from cardiovascular disease, nearly 10 000 children perish from malnutrition, and 100 Europeans are killed on the roads. Compared with an air crash, though, such figures seem to be of no account. When the only things deemed to exist in our communication society are those portrayed by the media, then the only deaths deemed to exist are those that the media choose to portray.

Such technical failures seem to be the price we pay for our technological marvels. A sort of entrance fee to ‘ever-more’ land, which sums up our civilisation’s technological development: ever faster, ever more accurate, and ever more powerful. Ever more complex too, in terms of technology and technological monitoring. All in all, technological progress can look forward to a bright media future!