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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Man Killed By the Freezing River That Killed His Cellphone

Posted by on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Time Magazine:

A Minnesota man died after he attempted to save his cellphone from the icy waters of the Chicago River early Monday, CBS Chicago reports. After dropping his phone into the water alongside the city’s Riverwalk area, the 26-year-old climbed over the railing and soon fell into the river.
One of the two humans who jumped into the river to save the Minnesota man is in the hospital and the other is missing and presumed dead. The sex of the missing one is female and that of the hospitalized one is male. What can we learn from this tragedy? Not dumb moralizing about our unhealthy attachment to cellphones. No. Let's learn this instead: The two who tried to save the Minnesota man were being human and not stupid. No Darwin Award for them because we got to where are as a species precisely as a consequence of this kind of sociality, which has two things at its core: the helping instinct and the emotional resources for forgiveness.

It must be remembered that the helping instinct is so natural to us that it only makes a vivid appearance in extreme situations such as the one in this report. Indeed, the reason why our movies and news reports are so packed with violence is because evolutionary selection has wired us to focus on bad situations and not normal ones, which involve our effortless ability to help others. A system organized by the logic of capitalism, a logic that places economic value on our attention, will emphasize precisely the violence in our society because that is what captures our attention.


Comments (14) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
This post started out really great. And then it sailed either over my head or just away. I can't tell, which is really one of the charms of your posts.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on January 14, 2014 at 8:26 AM · Report this
One of the first things taught to a first responder is to only help if you can ensure your own safety. This isn't selfishness, but rather a realization that you can't help anyone if you're also in trouble. Hence "put on your oxygen mask first and then help others with their own".

But seriously, tying this to capitalism? What the fuck is that shit?
Posted by Solk512 on January 14, 2014 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 3
@2: It would not be a Mudede post without at least one nonsensical jump to glorify the author's own tangential ideas.

Trade needs to exist to promote peace and prosperity, this has not changed since our ancestors were tromping through Africa in small bands. We can argue about what forms trade should take, but without free (not deregulated) markets, human society can not evolve.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 14, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Amalink 4
Oh my god my mother was right: "If your friends jumped off a bridge would you follow them?"
Posted by Amalink on January 14, 2014 at 8:53 AM · Report this
Thoughtful post, Charles. Thank you for it.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on January 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Wow, pretty large logical jumps here. Here's another: a 21, 23, and 26 year old were by the river walk after midnight in an area with a lot of bars and restaurants. I'm going to say booze was involved, in which case they should be re-awarded a Darwin prize.

The real lessons: we don't know what was going through their heads, and cold water fucking scares me. I walk over the Chicago river almost every day. It almost never freezes solid, even when we were in the midst of the polar vortex. So one slip, and you've got maybe five minutes before you're dead. Your muscles cease up, you can barely breathe (if you can keep your head above water), the pain from the cold is so fucking intense, and your wet clothes will likely pull you down to a horrible death.

All of that considered, I'm a little surprised they were from Minnesota.
Posted by dave1976 on January 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Enjua 7
I strongly recommend A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit.

I recommend his book to Charles, to those who are interested in his tying these deaths to capitalism (or, rather, a situation not about capitalism), to those flummoxed and upset by the link, and to people who simply enjoy good fiction. As a writer, Solnit is nothing like Charles: her writing is simple and elegant instead of convoluted, and she makes the links between ideas very clear. But in Paradise, Solnit describes horrible events as useful insights into human character, and humans as essentially altruistic in disasters (in part because they don't set precedents, and so are outside of the status quo).
Posted by Enjua on January 14, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
Cascadian 8
I think this post is clear enough. He's saying that news like this gets attention because it's profitable for news organizations, because they are exploiting an inborn human drive to help others. Capitalism is really good at exploiting human motivations, for both good and bad ends.
Posted by Cascadian on January 14, 2014 at 10:06 AM · Report this
your full of shit. drop out of technology; drop out of economic growth and expansion. cupping the robots scrotum.
Posted by thousand men hacking at branches on January 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
On a side note - are cell phones waterproof now? If I dropped my phone in the water I'd just consider it shot, why rescue it? But maybe I'm just behind the times.
Posted by Jude Fawley on January 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 11
But people jump into icy rivers all the time on TV and they don't die.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 14, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
CBSeattle 12
I get the income inequality problem and I think we are in the midst of building an aristocracy that will cause great harm to our society. But my admittedly simple understanding of socialism is that it prohibits/limits private ownership and advocates central control. I think you and Sawant do yourselves a disservice by advocating socialism. You would be more likely to achieve your goals if you drop the "isms" and focus on the problem: income inequality caused by ineffective government. We had a similar problem over a century ago and had a progressive movement that went a long way towards making it better.
Posted by CBSeattle on January 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 13
@3: That, but also requisite is the unnecessary aside to throw a troll into a tizzy.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM · Report this
This is really freaky, two dead humans all for a lost cellphone?

So, was this one of those talking cellphones, like that abysmal movie, Her?

(I know, the doucheys love this movie, especially the Movie critic at neocon KIRO!)

We don't even know the make of this cellphone: vanilla, or a smartphone or the latest gen?

I just cannot imagine the profound stupidity of this entirely unfortunate event.

And what kind of fool would drop his cellphone in the river to begin with?????
Posted by sgt_doom on January 14, 2014 at 11:53 AM · Report this

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