General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

When does an accident become a 'tragedy'?

Asked by elbanditoroso (22415points) June 8th, 2014

Yesterday’s newspapers reported a traffic accident in which the actor Tracy Morgan was critically injured. Not his fault – he was a passenger in a shuttle bus.

Initially it was reported as a bad accident – certainly not a fun time for anyone, but a traffic accident like any of 10,000 that happen every day.

Today’s web reporting (and TV reporting) calls it a “tragedy” – see for example:


My question: Does an accident become a tragedy because someone famous got hurt? If I were in an accident, would it be a tragedy?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

14 Answers

Seek's avatar

I think the real tragedy is that someone actually died on that bus and two other people critically injured as well, and all anyone can talk about is Tracy Morgan.

dxs's avatar

It becomes a tragedy when the media dramatize it. The word tragedy itself refers to drama.

josie's avatar

See @dxs
Tragedy in the example is newspeak.

Actually, tragedy refers to a particular dramatic device

Blondesjon's avatar

Spilling a beer is an accident.

Spilling the last beer is a tragedy.

dappled_leaves's avatar

It becomes a tragedy when we care, when we feel the impact of the event. If we don’t care about the people who were injured, then it’s no tragedy.

CWOTUS's avatar

As @Seek correctly noted, when someone – anyone – dies as a result of the accident, then it’s a “tragic accident”.

zenvelo's avatar


Spilling your drink is a comedy.

Spilling my drink is a tragedy.

JLeslie's avatar

@seek summed it up well.

CWMcCall's avatar

Any true accident will ultimately yield a tragedy on some level.

Coloma's avatar

There can be happy accidents though,, so maybe it should just be referred to as an unhappy accident.

Coloma's avatar

A bad car wreck is one of my worst fears. I drive without issue but on occasion when I think about it, I can’t think of anything much worse than being crushed in your car. Maybe dying in a porta potty on a 100 degree day, but at least you wouldn’t have broken bones and horrible injuries. Poor accident victims, whoever they are. Knock on wood my deck rail right now. haha

jca's avatar

Walmart says they will “make it right.” Of course they have no choice but “make it right,” and of course they are going to say that. Especially because their truck driver was charged and allegedly he was driving 20 hours, which is illegal. It’s bad publicity and they’re liable.

DWW25921's avatar

A “tragedy” is something that the press will use to get viewers hooked on their channel. It’s usually something big. An accident is something that happens that is considered to be to “normal” to make money off of. Politicians do the same thing.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

“The death of one man: that is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: that is a statistic!” – Kurt Tucholsky.

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