The RMS Titanic, the largest and probably most luxurious ocean liner of its time, sank in the very early morning of April 15th, 1912. That would be 107 years ago now. Titanic was called ‘the ship of dreams’ and was considered pretty much unsinkable. Until it wasn’t. But what actually happened? Well, all was well and smooth-sailing on board the Titanic on its way from Southampton to NYC, until the crew failed to fulfill their duties. Yes, the collision with the iceberg could have been avoided. The Titanic received a total of 6 to 7 ice warnings and for some reason all of them were overlooked. (History on the Net) The ship kept moving forward at nearly full speed. It was that and, according to the movie adaptation, the fact that the lookouts did not spot the iceberg quickly enough because they had no binoculars. Imagine that.
The failure to turn quickly enough resulted in an iceberg hitting the Titanic’s starboard side at around 11:40 p.m. on April 14th. 6 out of the 16 compartments of the ship started to flood and soon the crew knew that there was no escape – the ship was bound to sink in only a couple of hours. The rest is history.
So how would the sinking of the Titanic look like today? Or more specifically – how would its portrayal by the media look like?
Here’s a meme that was re-made for several consecutive years that shows one perspective:
The meme says 2017, however its applicableness in 2019 can’t have changed much. As exaggerated as it is (people obviously wouldn’t have their phones while drowning in ice-cold water), the meme does point out a tragic flaw of contemporary society: the tendency to live moments as if to show we’re enjoying them rather than to actually enjoy them or be present. Obviously in Titanic’s case it wasn’t really about enjoying the moment. This is where the irony comes in: even in such a doomed, tragic situation, one would rather first take out his phone and film it before he does anything else. Simply because it’s picture-worthy and talk-worthy and it has the potential to make one ‘popular.’ Of course, whether that would actually be the case in this particular scenario is hard to tell.
Here’s another meme:
This one I believe is pretty self-explanatory. Now let’s move on to examining what life on the Titanic would be in the age of social media. Let’s actually look at the famous movie depiction of the event from 1997, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The movie is said to ‘be inspired by historical events,’ however ‘certain of the characters, events and dialogue portrayed in the motion picture were created for the purpose of fictitious dramatization.’ (Titanic, 1997) Still, let’s take Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet) as simply two sample voyagers on the Titanic and see how their interactions would have looked like if Titanic was to have sailed today. How would their story be different?
Disclaimer: We’re assuming that Rose and Jack had some access to internet connection. As a person who’s lived on a ship, I know that, despite the technological advances of our modern age, ship internet tends to be quite limited.
So, here’s the Jack and Rose story – revisited:
Jack and Rose meet when Rose is about to jump off the back of the ship, unhappy with her life and the fact that she’s being forced into a marriage with a guy she doesn’t love – Cal. Rose and Jack gradually grow closer, as he shows her how to live ‘on the edge’ (haha) and enjoy life to the fullest. After a fun night partying with the 3rd class, Jack texts Rose:
Rose goes offline and is nowhere to be found, so Jack goes looking for her. He finds her and opens up about his feelings for her. Rose doesn’t know what she wants so she rejects him and runs away. She keeps thinking about it though.
Here’s what follows:
Yes, he did draw her like one of his French girls, and Rose now can’t get enough. However, they also attended the iceberg collision and know that something bad is going on. When they go to inform Cal and Rose’s mom of the ‘emergency,’ Jack is framed for theft and taken away. Rose is confused.
*Flash-forward to an hour later* Less than 3 hours till the sinking, Rose is now getting her priorities straight and is on a quest to find Jack.
After she does find him, we all know how the story ends and that there was enough space for both of them on that door. Oh well.
On a final note, the conversations found above are, just like the movie, a product of intentional dramatization and over-exaggeration, even though this type of texting is definitely not uncommon to the current generations. I must acknowledge the fact that the movie is after all depicting a really tragic disaster in history and in no way am I attempting to disrespect or belittle the seriousness of it. And yes I do still cry every time I see it.
Titanic. (1999). [DVD] United States: James Cameron.
“Titanic Timeline” History on the Net
© 2000-2019, Salem Media. November 3, 2019 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/titanic-timeline-3>
Dodge, Washington. “Eyewitness Account of the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, www.gilderlehrman.org/history-now/spotlight-primary-source/eyewitness-account-sinking-titanic-1912.
…And a bit of Wikipedia because I got no shame!