How is it that a car crash can tie up traffic on both sides of the highway? An accident can be completely contained on one side of the highway divider; yet traffic can come to a virtual standstill on the other side. We call it rubbernecking – implying that we may have to work pretty hard to get a good look.
Why do we do this? What are we looking for? If it’s reassurance that no one was seriously hurt, news is only a screen and a tap away. But the disturbing reality is that some of us find another’s pain to be interesting, even enticing. Are we hoping to get a glimpse of someone bleeding, even dead? Surely we can get enough of that on network news.
Rubbernecking is not against the law. However, a behavior does not have to be criminal to reflect the lowest common denominators in human nature.