I wonder why the years of the late 80s are stuck in my memory so much? I think it’s because I was becoming aware of the world and humanity. I was at that age where you start realising that other people exist in their own right and that some people have it hard and bad things happen. The following events are ones that are pinned in my memory and made me think about the world:
- Chernobyl – April 1986 [100 upto 4000 deaths, maybe]
- Piper Alpha Disaster – July 1988 [167 deaths]
- Heysel Stadium Tragedy – May 1985 [39 deaths]
- Hillsborough Tragedy – April 1989 [96 deaths]
- Bradford Stadium Fire – May 1985 [56 deaths]
- Challenger Disaster – January 1986 [7 deaths]
- Herald Of Free Enterprise Disaster – March 1987 [193 deaths]
- Bhopal Disaster – December 1984 [more than 2259 deaths]
- Marchioness Disaster – August 1989 [51 deaths]
These are pretty much the ones I can name from memory. I guess it’s quite sad that horrific events stick in our brains. I’m trying to think of “happy” events from those times and all I can think of are personal or family events. There aren’t any global happy events that bubble up from the depths of my brain, perhaps they don’t exist? I’m sure they are there. I guess there was the 1988 Olympics but I have become quite convinced that sports mostly exist as a distraction from the horrors from everyday life and how we as society don’t really care.
What is the human obsession with reporting death and disaster when compared to the good things or am I suffering from a massive case of confirmation bias? I guess as a species we need to know when bad things happen so we can learn and change the rules to ensure these things happen less. Quite often these lessons are learnt, sometimes those invested in making money and power do their best to subvert the reports and changes so they can continue to make money and stay in power. That could be the Achilles heel of the human race.
While writing this I’ve been thinking about disasters in the 90s and I’m not sure I can come up with any. They must’ve existed and that seems strange that I can’t instantly recall them. If I looked for them I suspect my memory would be jogged but why aren’t they there for instant recall. I’m going to ask around and see what other people think. It would be interesting to see if those of a similar age as me have the same collective memories. That would make sense.
A collective memory would also explain so much about politics and the way it cycles. As a generation dies out the memories of the horrors they faced die with them and History channel documentaries don’t really do it justice. Then the new generation start making the same mistakes and using the same kind of rhetoric that was to blame for the older horrors. Let’s see shall we.