I was so tired the other night because it was late when I was writing, so I finally just had to stop. After I stopped writing, I did some quick google searching for the sites that I did not know. What I found was surprising. Most of the sites were socialization and video sharing sites. Badoo, a top search for the world, looks to be like myspace and facebook. Same with hi5 and second life. Daily motion is a video sharing site and appears similar to Youtube. As my kind commentator pointed out, tmz is a place to follow celebrity gossip.
I thought about this quite a bit yesterday. MSNBC says that its top clicked stories of the week are all murder and killing stories. I checked a few other “news” sites and found similar patterns. Yet a search for what people are looking for, at least in 2007, reveals that what we actually seek is to connect, through socialization sites and video. We’re interested in the latest celebrity scandal (i.e., tmz and Anna Nicole Smith), but for the most part, we want to connect with one another. In a sense, it could be argued that we are not so interested in murder and death as we are in life, our lives and the lives around us. Even the checks on celebrity stories could be viewed as a way to connect; we wish to see how those who appear to have everything are really human in the ways that they mess up. (And of course it is so much fun to taunt Paris Hilton when she cries about how she’s “changed” after a few nights in jail. Poor baby. Yes, you are human. Riiiight.)
I think perhaps the “news” organizations ought to consider getting a clue on this point. They design sites where you click for the “latest story.” Yet those stories are chosen by the organization and a link is created to click. They are the ones that are creating the “top-clicked stories” because they are the ones choosing which stories to present. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, created by the “news” organization. Would their results be the same if their subject matter were different? I doubt it. In fact, if murder and killing stories weren’t on there at all, they could not be clicked at all. Suppose the stories presented were about world affairs or national interest pieces. Yes, the stories may then be about killing because the stories might be about wars, but they probably would not be the sort of sensationalized killing stories available via the “top clicked sites.”
What with the proliferation of shows like CSI, I suppose the “news” organizations think all we are interested in is murder and killing. What they fail to understand is that it isn’t the murder that interests us on shows like that, it is the investigation and the finding of the clues. These are two different things. In some ways the investigation is a form of joining together between the people seeking to find the clues into the murder. Again, connection. Like the searches on google for social sites and video sharing, what we seem to seek is relationship and association, not murder and killing. This shouldn’t be surprising, but considering “news” organizations have sought to shove murder and killing down our throats as long as there have been “news” stories, I don’t expect it to end anytime soon.