Like most of the world, I've been saddened and riveted by the images and video coming out of Japan in the wake of the Earthquake and Tsunami last week. Here's one in particular that I found compelling and wanted to share, showing a town in Northern Japan being washed away by the incoming Tsunami:
Obviously, my heart goes out to the people who have lost loved ones and been displaced by these events.
It's made me think about the world in 2011. Much more so than 5 or 10 years ago, virtually everyone now has some sort of photo or video capture device. Even inexpensive cell phones can now capture video, often in HD, and this will only increase as time goes on. Further, we've put surveillance cameras up all over our cities and in our buildings-- to a fault, in my opinion-- but the point is, it's now virtually impossible for anything of significance to happen without it being captured and filmed, either by the media, individuals, or a static camera sitting on a wall.
Here's what I'm wondering: does this serve to bring the world together at times like these, or do endless images of disaster desensitize us? I don't have an answer, but I suspect it's a little of both. In other words, while first hand accounts and video help to personalize a tragedy, the total volume of content available can eventually numb us to what's going on. Like anything else, once you've seen too much of something, you start to zone it out.
Update 4/15: The Huffington Post has a fantastic and harrowing set of photos on its home page today. Of course, since it's the Huffington Post, I can't find a direct link or figure out who they're credited to. I'm assuming the AP. Here's one that I thought really captured the aftermath: