Young white and dead

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but young, white dead people are hot news at the moment.

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It may have something to do with boosting newspaper circulation figures, but you know the drill.

Someone in their early 20s goes backpacking abroad and has an accident; or a crazed bowie-knife wielding random murders them.

Something bothers me about all this. It’s not the deaths, tragic though they are. I find it hard to mourn for strangers while endless news bombards my senses. No, it’s the peculiar bias such stories seem to have.

The victims are almost always young, white and middle class. If they are single women in the prime of life, so much the better for the journos’ raddled sensibilities. It helps if they have recently graduated: plenty of scope for saying, ‘She had everything to look forward to.’

And she did…. But I can’t help noticing the absence of young black people in these stories. You could be forgiven for thinking that tragedy never strikes if you belong to another ethnic group. I have often wondered why this is.

Then it struck me. The victims whom the ‘meejah’ focus on remind tabloid readers of their own nearest and dearest. If you regularly read the Daily Depress, it’s likely you have a son or daughter resembling the dear departed – so you will swallow hard and think, ‘Christ! That could have been our Emily!’

You can then scamper back to the womb-like safety of your semi, in the sure knowledge that the Reaper’s lust for souls has been sated… for now. While you’re about it, you might want to install an extra lock on the door, and reflect on what a terrible place the world has become.

All this demise and doom hints at a deeper meaning – an almost ritualistic sense of loss. Consider the Princess of Wales, and the very public grief her death inflicted on us. The media probably helped to kill her; but as we consume more and more news we create a dangerous hunger in ourselves. We want to be comforted as well as informed, but somehow we just end up feeling ever more terrified.

The truth is that nothing is risk free or guaranteed, and we hate to admit that in the end we are all food for worms. And on that cheery note, thanks for reading!

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