How to become more thoughtful and an overall better person

Human’s urge to be good to others despite what we think

Zoey James, Staff Writer

We don’t often sit down for long stretches of time and think about how we want to die. It’s scary and unpleasant. Humans are wired to survive, we aren’t wired to think about death… Or are we?

From 1797 to 1804, Joshua and William Harper killed 39 people. They are widely considered to be America’s first known serial killers. Crime is a topic that has always held wide interests in the public eye from the Harper Brothers to England’s almost mythical Jack the Ripper. There are entire genres of media devoted to exploring the scary, unpleasantness of life in great detail. Why are we like this? Why can we not look away from the scene of a car accident? Why are we drawn to stories of crime and destruction? Are humans naturally evil beings who make a valiant attempt at acting good? Well the answer, as so many things are, is complicated.

Morbid curiosity is a curiosity we all occasionally feel of something that is dangerous, immoral or otherwise socially unacceptable. Morbid curiosity is what keeps us tied to our devices, watching the world seemingly collapse under the weight of this pandemic. Although we all experience morbid curiosity, it is still something most people try to keep hidden away. The first instinct many people have when they encounter a particularly negative morbid curiosity is to try and force it out of your mind. This tactic of suppressing unpleasant thoughts was used unsuccessfully by infamous serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer.

So if we all have darkness and morbid curiosities within us, and fighting them does nothing but harm, how are we supposed to survive in a society? What is the purpose of morbid curiosity? Well, morbid curiosity can generate empathy for others. For example watching the destruction caused by a hurricane could make you feel a connection with those affected that would not be attainable from simply reading about the damage. Imagining violence is also a form of morbid curiosity, and it is something most of us do when we are children… We imitate superheroes and dramatic fight scenes because morbid curiosity can be utilized, even as children, to be a form of strength. Morbid curiosity can also serve as a reminder to cherish what we have. Sometimes we need to take a breath and remember that for better or worse nothing around us is permanent. Morbid curiosity provides us an avenue to do just that.

The fact that everything around us will eventually end is scary, but it is also what gives life its meaning. So think about death and destruction. Think about explosions and catastrophes. You might just come out of it a more thoughtful and overall better person.