The incident is particularly unsettling for two reasons: At its root is a testament to what a cruel and indiscriminate predator depression is, capable of consuming even humanity’s greatest minds, yet the uncompassionate response illustrates just how poorly we understand the condition. Above all, however, embedded in the media’s treatment of Virginia’s suicide is a grotesque reminder that the only thing more morally repugnant than passing judgment on another human being’s private struggle and inner world, than choosing self-righteousness over compassionate understanding, is doing so publicly, and in the commercial media. What a spectacular failing of the awareness that it’s far more rewarding to understand than to be right.
Humorous responses to Sandy’s destruction rose, peaked, and eventually fell over the course of 100 days. We find that temporal distance creates a comedic sweet spot. A tragic event is difficult to joke about at first, but the passage of time initially increases humor as the event becomes less threatening. Eventually, however, distance decreases humor by making the event seem completely benign.