One of the biggest creative problems when starting this site was not knowing how to integrate one of my biggest interests- the dead.
Obviously, after quite some deliberation I decided to say “screw it” and create a whole section dedicated to the morbid and strange.
For the most part, that section of my website has been well-received, but I can’t say it’s been all rainbows and butterflies. I know for a matter of fact that I’ve lost followers because I have a non-cliché-non-basic- section on my site.
How dare I not have only the lifestyle and entertainment and pop-culture basics!
Once, I had a woman email me about how It’s Dark In Here (my morbid section) was “inappropriate” and how she would subscribe and recommend her friends do as well if I removed that section.
I responded with an eloquent letter that essentially said “fuck you” very, very, nicely.
Surprisingly, I never heard from her again!…. Wonder why.
However, the more I’ve had people question if I’m a serial killer, the more I’ve wondered just why it is that morbid curiosity exists.
We all have a little bit of it.
In my life it just happens to be a much larger topic of fascination than in others.
In fact, I’ve been intrigued by the morbid for as long as I can remember.
I love hearing stories, and learning strange facts, but most of all, I love the history, romanticism, and humanizing truths that you can find in the most morbid of stories.
While I like many morbid topics, my favorite is that specifically related to death.
In fact, I made my friend fly with me to Palermo just to see Rosalia Lombardo and the Capuchin Catacombs.
On that particular trip I Googled “Where to see dead people”.
Yes, for reals.
We came up with a few other Capuchin churches that were decorated with human bones and we spent extra money JUST to go see them.
Why does the attraction to the morbid exist?
I think a lot of psychological arguments, based on the premise of evolution (a premise I don’t believe) speculate that morbid curiosity exists to:
1: Keep us aware of dangers- how do you know unless you look and learn.
2. Help us empathize with others- humans are bound by relationships.
Now, personally I buy reason 2 a lot more than reason 1!
I know plenty a people (me and my three personas) who enjoy seeing preserved bodies that didn’t have a traumatic ending. So, number one just doesn’t make sense to me, number two is totally plausible though and I think very related to what I’m about to suggest…
My Unsolicited Thoughts
So, with the “scientific” reasons out of the way (is psychology a science?), let’s talk about the appeal of morbid curiosity from my observations.
First, everyone is a little morbid.
Everyone loves a good train wreck. You linger at car accidents, natural disasters, and other horrible events, because you just want to know. You learn the stories of shooters and terrorists because you’re curious. You watch documentaries about cereal serial killers, and looting and the sex industry because you’re curious.
You’re curious even if you might not like what you find, but you keep watching.
I’ve spent time thinking about this and here’s what I’ve found.
Morbid curiosity is linked directly to the human condition.
Let me say that again, morbid curiosity is linked directly to the human condition.
We all live, we all love, we all suffer, and we all die…. Well except for those two Bible characters. Any Bible students up in the house? Those two be walking with Jesus right now.
But the point I’m trying to make, that I haven’t made yet, is that life is lighter with the darkness. We all experience both, but without the dark, the light wouldn’t have as much meaning.
If you can’t tell by my very poetic writing, I see romanticism and beauty within the darkness.
Just look at Paris, the most romantic city on earth. Home of the Eiffel tower and the Louvre. Notorious for the fancy boutiques, and restaurants. Glamorized as THE place to eat a baguette, drink espresso and wear a striped shirt.
This is also the home to the world famous catacombs. Miles of passages underground. Not just any passages either, but passages littered with the remains of those upturned from their graves.
Thousands of forgotten people, whose bodies have been dismantled and used to create decorative symbols and patterns. Thousands of people who are now used to make money for the city of romance.
But here’s the thing, I haven’t just ruined Paris for you.
If anything you’re probably more intrigued by the city of lights.
Because, there’s nothing that pushes you more into “you only live once, let’s enjoy it” romantic mode, than the thought of being forgotten and used to decorate an underground crypt.
Just like there’s nothing more humanizing than walking amongst old unkempt graves, and realizing how fragile life is.
There’s nothing more interesting than wondering what the forgotten were like in their lives.
There’s nothing more fascinating than the true history behind the most unusual and morbid things in our world.
There’s nothing more comforting than knowing that there will always be weirdos out there who will somehow remember you. Even when you’re a forgotten grave plot.
And that in short is why I think morbid curiosity exists. It exists to push us to live. To provide us with an acknowledgement of the fragility of life, the beauty in it and an appreciation of those we get to spend time with now.
So, now you have a great reason for your love of morbid curiosity. Go forth and enjoy the weirdness of life.