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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CNN must be really into this stuff or is it the case that we, the viewers are? Nothing has been on the news except for the missing Malaysian Air flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. And we are all riveted to our screens once more to collectively witness the specter of human tragedy that befell the 239 missing passengers aboard the aircraft and their loved ones.

The deep involvement by which we regard the incident and the ready empathy that it generates from all of us speak about the kind of assumptions we have about the world we live in today.

Three days after the plane went missing, there is still no definitive and credible news about its whereabouts and what happened to it. Which is strange in the age of big brother GPS satellites and constant connectivity. The world still remains a big and vast place after all and a huge aircraft with complex gadgetry carrying all those people on board can remain missing three days after can be unbelievable for many. Perhaps frustrated by this lack of information, the relatives of the missing passengers have filed a petition demanding that the Malaysian authorities expose the truth.


At this point, the plane seemed to have just vanished into thin air. There is now a flotilla of ships from a host of countries combing the seas but none of them has found traces of the wreckage. At present, the only clue is a trail of oil floating on the seas in the area where the plane was believed to have crashed. But it will take time for the sample taken to positively ascertain its origins to be that from the downed plane.

For our generation from particular set of social standing who have enjoyed the benefits of air travel, the mantra that riding on a plane is safer than riding in our cars is taken as a matter of faith. We call on this belief as we steel ourselves during take-offs and landings. When we arrive at our destination in one piece, we confirm our faith in this belief toward the reliability of modern technology.

Riding on the same crest of technological optimism that contemporary air travel affords is a global business culture. Much of the revenue generated by airlines that has pushed the economic viability of air travel is the global organization of capitalism. Business travelers have fueled the growth of airlines and hotels all over the world.

At the forefront of selling the illusion of the shrinking global village an important component of which is air travel is the influential media network CNN.

While watching the news reports of the missing plane, the impact of the disaster to the network is unmistakable since a significant sector of their viewership travel incessantly in behalf of their global capitalist organizations. They have partner airlines and hotels and have special reports on Africa, Asia, and the rest of the world.

In this culture pushed by CNN and funded by corporate accounts, they talk of mileage, first class accommodations, and other freebies that provide the incentive for monitoring global capitalist production processes elsewhere from their corporate centers in major cities of the first world. In fact, CNN even has a footage of the very pilots of the ill-fated plane in an earlier episode of their program that caters to this culture.

There are already a number of speculations already about what happened to the Boeing 777. There are reports of two stolen passports that were used by passengers to hide their identities to board the ill-fated plane. This information foreground the possibility of a catastrophic failure which caused the plane to disappear almost instantaneously over the seas of Vietnam that early morning. Aircraft experts now point to a bomb or an event that led to the disintegration of the plane mid-air. The fact that no distress signal was sent bolsters this theory.

The Boeing 777 is considered to be one of the more reliable and safe aircraft ferrying people across the globe with only one known crash in its more than a decade of service. In a question that reveals the incredulous tone of those that ask, what could have possibly brought the technologically-advanced plane down except for some evil event instigated by men?

In the post 9-11 world, the fake passports and angle of terrorism are now bandied about to explain the missing plane. It is indeed easy to assign blame on the usual suspects over casting doubt over the perceived technological superiority of these flying machines, symbols of capitalist advancement and formidability.

Next time I ride a plane, however, it would be luck I will be counting on and not faith on these impressive machines that still fall from the sky without warning.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 11, 2014.


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