Monday, January 16, 2012

Cruise ship sinking tragic, but not titanic

Another tragedy occurred this past week when the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia sunk on Italy’s western coast.

The event served to bring to light one of the irritating traits common in today’s world. That is the tendency, maybe I should say, the habit, of exaggerating severity and comparison of dangerous and tragic events.

I am in no way saying that the fate of the Costa Concordia, passengers and crew is not a tragedy. Any loss of life is a tragedy.

The habit of exaggerating tragedy and danger is the fault, in large part, of the big media outlets. Sensationalism is not a new media ploy. The tactic has been used for centuries. It seems that as many media outlets become more unscrupulous about their practices, the tendency to exaggerate rears its ugly head far more often.

To put a point on the Costa Concordia sinking, there have been a number of stories attempting to make comparison to the sinking of the Titanic. I fail to see where the loss of less than 50 crew and passengers is comparable with the 1514 people who lost their lives on Titanic. I fail to see where the collision with a reef, within sight of land in 2012 is even in the same league with striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic, nearly 100 years ago, where the water was so cold that one could not survive more than minutes in the water.

The sinking of the Costa Concordia is tragic, yes. Is it “titanic?” I think not.

Just as frustrating is the inevitable questions that occur after such a tragedy. Headline after headline asks, “Is cruising safe?” Granted, cruise ship lines have had a fair amount of bad press in the past dozen years, or so. I suppose that much of it is deserved. Since the closest I have been to a cruise is watching “The Love Boat,” maybe I am not as qualified as some to be the judge.

The question that the media keeps asking, (I don’t know, maybe people really do want to know,) is if going on a cruise is safe. We have this sinking, of course. There have been a couple of other incidents, I seem to recall of ships running aground or colliding. There have also been several instances of passengers coming down with food poisoning. I believe that a couple of cruise ships have run afoul with pirates, as well.

Going on a cruise is not unlike anything else that we want to do by way of a vacation, a weekend adventure or everyday life. There is an element of danger to everything.

Your cruise ship could sink. You could get hit by a bus. A Russian satellite could fall on your house while you are sleeping.

I see no purpose in worrying about such things. Is sailing on a luxury cruise ship safe? It has to be safer, and more comfortable, than making the same trip in a rowboat. It is all about perspective.

As I see it, if you want to go on a cruise, don’t let the big media outlets make the call for you. You only live once.

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