+
An anonymous VFX artist created a chilling visual of the American lives lost to COVID-19

There's a weird thing that happens when we talk about people dying, no matter what the cause. The 2,977 souls who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack felt overwhelming. The dozens of children who are killed in school shootings are mourned across the country each time one happens. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi prompted months of investigations and emotional video montages at national political conventions.

But as the numbers of deaths we talk about get bigger, our sensitivity to them grows smaller. A singular story of loss often evokes more emotion than hearing that 10,000 or 100,000 people have died. Hearing a story of one individual feels personal and intimate, but if you try to listen to a thousand stories at once, it all blends together into white noise. It's just how our minds work. We simply can't hold that many individual stories—and the emotion that goes along with them—all at once.

But there are some ways we can help our brains out. An anonymous visual effects artist has created a visualization that can better help us see the massive number of Americans who have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The number alone is staggering, and seeing all of the individual lives at once is overwhelming.

In this video, each marble represents one American who has died of COVID-19, and each second represents six days. At the top, you can see the calendar fill in as time goes by. Unlike just seeing a grid of dots representing the visual, there's something about the movement and accumulation of the marbles that makes it easier to see the scope of the lives impacted.


Just watch:

(If you're curious, the artist has clarified that no, the flesh tones of the spheres are not representative of the racial makeup of those impacted by the pandemic.)

The artist, who you can find on Reddit wrote on Vimeo, "A single death is terrible but something I can comprehend as I have life experience to draw upon. When the number of deaths become 5, 10, 50, [it's] a tragedy and still something I can connect with at a very personal level. However, as death tolls start to hit the 100s it becomes something else. It becomes an event. An awful event. It becomes harder to conceptualize and empathize with. I suspect the threshold for this is different for everyone and varies between cultures. The goal of this project was to help me visualize 230,000 as a number but it also helped reconcile that these are people with families, friends and social circles..."

The artist said they started working on this project on November 1 and finished November 15. During that time, an additional 15,000+ Americans died from COVID-19.

Furthermore, from the time the project was finished to the time this article was written—two weeks—another 22,000+ have died from the virus.

The scope of the tragedy of the pandemic truly is hard to fathom. When you think of the extended circles of people each of these marbles represent—the family and friends of the people who have died from this disease—it becomes even moreso.

And it didn't have to be this way. In the early months of the outbreak, we were told that if we managed the pandemic, we might lose 100,000 to 200,000 Americans total. We've already blown past the top of that range, with our average daily death toll trending upwards. And with hospitals filling up and a limited supply of healthcare workers, we are likely to see those averages spike even further.

We can slow that spike with our own behaviors—staying at home as much as we can, wearing masks when we have to go out, keeping up social distancing and handwashing. But no matter what happens, each of the lives lost to this disease deserves to be recognized for the tragedy that it is. And they each deserve the acknowledgement that we could have and should have done more to keep it under control. We have examples in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Korea, who managed to successfully keep the virus at bay and prevent the deluge of deaths that we've seen here.

Let's learn from this experience so the next time a pandemic hits—and there assuredly will be a next time—we'll have a better grasp on what to do from the get go. And let's make sure that hundreds of thousands of Americans dying in a matter of months never become just another statistic.

True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

This Giving Tuesday, Furbo makes it easier than ever to support dogs in need

Every Furbo purchase helps provide additional support for dog shelters & rescues.

Image via Furbo

Furbo is using Giving Tuesday to support dogs in need

Every year, six million lost or abandoned animals end up in shelters or rescues. Thankfully, 76% of those pets are adopted by their forever family. Of course, the dream is to find every stray animal a loving home, but getting there takes time, money, and resources.


If you’re a dog lover, especially with a rescue pup, you understand the importance of supporting animal rescue organizations and shelters. Like you, Furbo Dog Camera wants to ensure all dogs are safe and happy at home. That’s why they founded Furbo For Good, the company’s charitable initiative that supports rescued dogs. And this Giving Tuesday, they’ll be doing more for pets in need than ever before!

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Woman reunites with her family 51 years after being kidnapped

Melissa Highsmith never even knew her real family was searching for her.

The family celebrate their reunion following a decades long search

In 1971, Melissa Highsmith was kidnapped from her home in Fort Worth, Texas. Her disappearance has been one of the oldest missing person cases in America. Now, she gets to celebrate a long-awaited reunion with her family in what she calls a “Christmas miracle.”

As ABC affiliate WFAA reported, Melissa’s mother, Alta (who now goes by Alta Apantenco) had put out an ad for a babysitter to watch over her then 21-month-old while she was at work. A white gloved, well-dressed woman going by the name of Ruth Johnson responded to the call, but she was no babysitter. After Johnson picked up baby Melissa from Apantenco’s roommate, the two were never seen again.

As any parents would do in this situation, the Highsmiths worked tirelessly to find their little girl, involving the Fort Worth police and even the FBI. Sadly, it was all to no avail. The only glimmer of hope remaining was that there was no evidence of harm, so maybe, just maybe, their Melissa was being well taken care of. And for 51 years, the family held onto that possibility.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Dwayne Johnson 'rights a wrong' at the 7-Eleven he used to shoplift from as a kid

The Rock admitted to stealing a Snickers bar every day for almost a year.

Johnson bought every Snickers bar in the store to "right a wrong"

Dwayne Johnson is a celebrity known for his generosity. Sure people know about his one-of-a-kind eyebrow raise an insane gym schedule, but it’s also common knowledge that he regularly makes surprise appearances to those in need. Not to mention his gifts are legendary—from puppies to trucks to houses.

So, it might not seem that out of the ordinary for the wrestler-turned-actor to buy every single Snickers bar at a 7-eleven and give them to customers for free. However, this was more than a good deed—it was an act of redemption.

As the “Black Adam” star shared in a video posted to his Instagram, this was the 7-Eleven he used to shoplift from while growing up in Hawaii.
Keep ReadingShow less