Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

The Comedy of Disaster – Titan’s Bizarre Accident Brings Out a Sour Taste in Comedy

On Sunday, June 18, 2023, a 21-foot submersible vessel known as Titan submerged at 8 AM Eastern time with five people on board and an oxygen supply totaling 96 hours, in an attempt to tour the wreckage of the Titanic. A little over an hour and a half later, the craft lost contact with its operator, OceanGate Expeditions. At 5:40 PM the same day, the Coast Guard received official notice of an overdue submersible which was scheduled to resurface at 3 PM that day.

Several days were spent combing the surrounding area of the original submersion, an area described as being about the size of the state of Connecticut. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference declaring that pieces of the Titan wreckage had been recovered, including the nose cone and a few other mechanical parts in a smaller debris field. None of the five people survived, their bodies having yet to be recovered. It has since been theorized that the major malfunction of the Titan submarine was an implosion due to loss of pressure in the heavy depths of the ocean surrounding the Titanic.

Since the incident, many people on all social media platforms have been abuzz about the slow-moving tragedy as it has updated over the past week. Many people have been critical of the lavishness of a private non-military seacraft being submerged by billionaires, claiming that the accident is their fault. Some more have said it must be terrible for the families and friends of the victims, having lost their loved ones in such a terrible accident of misadventure. Trending hashtags on Twitter now include #Titan, #OceanGate, #TitanicSubmarine, and #TitanicSubmersible as well as many others. Some posts include commentary and memes regarding other such disasters that didn’t warrant an immensely expensive and time-exhaustive rescue effort, such as the also recent capsizing of a Greek migrant fishing boat that carried an estimated total of 750 mostly Pakistani migrants seeking refuge in Europe from their tumultuous, war-torn country.

One Twitter topic that has been trending is the eerie similarity of the Titan implosion to James Cameron’s 1983 movie The Abyss. One Twitter user posted a digitally animated recreation of the implosion, with the text reading, “The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed the Titan ‘exploded from the inside’ It is likely that a crack caused the ‘catastrophic implosion’ shortly after communication was lost on Sunday. Video recreation of an implosion shows it would have occurred so fast, the passengers would have died instantly without being aware of what was happening.” Another Twitter user posted the implosion clip from The Abyss with the text, “Of course, the slowed for dramatic effect cinematic version has been around for quite a while.”

Beyond the realm of Hollywood movie magic, however, eerie parallels have been drawn from previous occupants of the Titan submersible reporting equipment malfunction, navigation issues and pressure irregularity within the craft. Statements from these individuals have also been shared by shocked Twittergoers. In addition, OceanGate was warned of potential catalysmic events happening with a trip as low as the Titanic’s resting place, which is 12,500 feet below the North Atlanic ocean, about as deep as 9 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.

Public opinions on social media of the lofty and tragic misadventure run the gamut from cynics to sympathizers, with little to no overlap between the two. Many users say this is simply a frivolous oversight of the bourgeoisie, while others express deep sympathy for an undertaking that may have simply been too great a feat to pull off, with deep sea exploration and scientific discovery vastly underwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of data uncovered by manned expeditions to explore Mars and the surface of our moon. For laymen, even wealthy laymen, undertaking such a deep sea effort, it would likely have been near to impossible to make a dive for the Titanic with non-military units and equipment.

This being said, many valid points have been brought up regarding regulation of deep sea exploration by non-scientific proponents. It would have been far less greater of a risk, certainly, to have a camera or other electronic sonar system sent down to the Titanic to pull up images, such as with Robert Ballard’s use of Argo, which itself propelled the use and study of deep sea imaging and sonar equipment in 1985. Without human lives piloting an aircraft in such a pressurized setting, there would have been significantly less, almost zero, chance of any human fatalities in such an endeavor to simply get images and video of the wreckage.

It is uncertain how much more coverage and talk will be made about the Titan implosion in the days and weeks to follow now that it has been verified with multiple authorities that the craft is no longer intact and its passengers more than likely scattered to the bottom of the ocean along with (presumably) the souls of the wreckage they were so keen to explore. As with any deep sea accident, there is certainly a frightening element of one’s final resting place being the unforgiving icy waters of the Atlantic. More firsthand accounts of people who have gone on a voyage within Titan’s craft are emerging (pardon the pun), claiming that the vessel was unsafe with that many passengers on board with the subpar equipment available on board the cramped submarine.

There have been many memes and joke Tweets posted about the tragedy, with rampant gallows humor seeming to be the main way this social media-literate generation is processing the tragedy from a bystander’s perspective.

For many nameless users with sock accounts and meme profiles on these platforms, it’s a detached way to comment about an event that didn’t affect them whatsoever, but in the grand scheme of things, in such a death and often God-fearing society, it might be too soon for some of the memes and jokes made about the disadvantage of those lost in the Titan implosion of 2023.

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