Saturday, June 15 2024

“Dark tourism” is the phenomenon of people visiting places where tragedies
once took place. While visiting, they will typically photograph the place
and themselves on location, allowing viewers to feel like they are there
themselves, too.

To give just a few examples: there are people who have photographed
themselves with the Concordia ship behind them, the cruise ship that sank
on the Italian island of Giglio due to the captain’s recklessness, and
there are others who went to see where the cable car fell from the summit
of Mottarone. There are others who travel for hours to take pictures of
themselves in front of a house where a murder took place or on a street
that was once a crime scene. Social network feeds are full of similar
“reportages.”


What’s behind this sort of behavior? Can distinctions be made between
different places that remind us of death?

According to one author, Rojek, places like concentration camps are to be
distinguished from other crime scenes that attract visitors.

There are some places that evoke a sense of remembrance of the past and the
history of humanity, while others are visited out of sheer curiosity.

In the first case, there is often an interest in learning about historical
events, understanding what caused them, and, hopefully, thinking about how
we can work to keep it from happening again.

Going to a place where a plane has just crashed or where someone has been
killed, on the other hand, means giving space to a cheap and superficial
curiosity. We could define this form of tourism as “morbid,” “dark,” or
“macabre.”

The latter is part of “Dark Tourism,” in which locations become a “good”
commodified by those who visit these reminders of man’s mortality. This
phenomenon stands out due to the attention the media gives to particular
events.


What makes places related to death so attractive to us? Why show others
pictures of these locations?

It’s likely that we visit places where there has been one or multiple
deaths (i.e., places where recent disasters or accidents have occurred) in
order to experience strong emotions. Feelings that arise in these places
will probably linger with us for the rest of the day.

Dark tourism is kind of like a horror movie, though it shakes us more than
a movie would since it isn’t fiction. It’s impressive, upsetting,
attractive, and thrilling.

This pull we have to experience intense emotions (and death—the great
unknown—brings on intense emotions so easily) goes beyond our rational
minds, which aims to protect us from experiencing anxiety brought on in
certain places.

Doesn’t it seem foolish to visit a place that makes us feel anxious? And
yet, the demand for dark tourism is on the rise. There are more and more
people who want to feel special and important. They may feel that sharing
photos of these locations can get them the attention they seek.

The macabre attracts us perhaps because it brings us closer, in some way,
to something we don’t fully understand—death. Nevertheless, people remain
concerned about mortality and have so many questions about it. So, in
addition to experiencing intense emotions at these sites and escaping the
boredom of their daily lives, people also confront their fear of death.

Keeping curiosity at bay…out of respect!

Relatives or friends of those who have been victims of crimes or disasters
often suffer at the mere sight of the place where their loved one lost his
or her life.

Before trivializing the meaning of such a place with a smiling selfie,
shouldn’t we ask ourselves what the relatives of the victims would think if
they saw us?

If we want to experience intense emotions, we could instead go to a
concert, the cinema, the theater, or an amusement park.

Above all, why not try to make ourselves useful by, say, volunteering in
places where people are most vulnerable and need extra care?

Is there any greater thrill than seeing someone get better by their own
drive of the will and with a little assistance?

Do we even really need to go to crime scenes to encounter death? Wouldn’t
it be more peaceful to simply look to the Crucifix, where we can look
toward He who has conquered death for us?

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