12 March 2011

Plucky foreigner does what they're not supposed to

I've noticed, in reading about the earthquake, several stories of foreigners saying, 'Everybody was told to do X, but I didn't because I thought it was stupid.' One was in the newspaper on the train last night and they treat it like, 'PLUCKY ENGLISH BLOKE SURVIVES ORIENTAL DISASTER'. I hate, hate, hate this narrative. Fewer people die in natural disasters when everyone stays calm and does what they're told to. The guy who says, 'This is stupid, I'm going to go do whatever I think is best' is the guy who makes this sort of thing worse. America and England are filled with these guys: I know many of them. But I gotta say, when the ground starts shaking, do what you're told. I read this in the Times too a while back: that if a nuclear bomb went off in New York, if everyone just stayed inside and didn't panic, the death count would be significantly less. Independent thought is not a context-free virtue.