Culture Map Loves Tornadoes and Disaster

I get it. This is the internet. Disasters and cute pets reign supreme. But this is also Dallas, and plenty of us have friends and family in Oklahoma. So you tell me, is this Culture Map headline appropriate:

“Terrifying Oklahoma tornado videos and sink-sleeping French bulldog top links we love.”

I can see this CM post two ways. One is drawing from Mike’s “hug someone” sentiment in Leading Off. As Stephen Stills-Hobbes once sang, “Life is nasty, brutish, and short / so love you’re the one you’re with.” Or, to update it to the 21st century, numb your pain with internet pictures of cute pets and banal, user-generated comedic memes. But the CM post isn’t presented as an invitation to diversion. After the links to the tornadoes, we get a link to “great moments in pizza.” Then, the cute bulldog, followed by a comedy clip spoofing catty compliments, and photos of people pretending to feed food to inanimate objects. In other words, we get what the headline promises: links Culture Map loves. And so, we assume, Culture Map loves tornadoes.

Listen, I too love videos of tornadoes. I’ve probably watched every category four or five tornado video on YouTube. I threaten my wife with my secret dream of becoming a storm chaser all the time. But today, today I don’t love tornadoes or tornado videos. Not when a third grade class is missing. Not with so many people dead. Not now.


  • grammarbelle

    I’m with you: tornado and trailer park jokes are part of who we are and perfect fodder for a good C&W song. But not today. Not yet.

  • j skool

    My takeaway is that Culture Map is a threat to this blog.

  • Bill Marvel

    Video from tornado chasers has been instrumental in helping weather scientists study these storms. Many of those scientists are chasers themselves.
    as for our appetite for these videos, it pretty much comes with human nature and probably serves a useful purpose. I know everyone in our house will have one eye on TV forecasts all day.

    • Peter Simek

      You’re right, Bill, and I think my last line may have misdirected my point. I’m not primarily concerned with watching videos, but with the tastelessness of lumping those videos in with cute dogs and pizza videos. We can find positive social value in the images that mediate our experience of reality, but the callousness of this particular post seems to indicate that the mediation calcifies our experience of sociality.

  • Bill Gelwick

    That statement is wildly inappropriate. BUT, I have to say, I’m glad we live somewhere that people are free to be ignorant and insensitive jerks without fear of prosecution. Persecution by the public is a different story.

  • Neal K

    Wow, the Culture Map home page. Information overload. I shouldn’t have to expand my already oversized browser window to see all the content.