OK, maybe not the WHOLE internet– I don’t know if they are sharing this as much in Mumbai as they are in the media-frenzied, twit-pic happy bubble of NYC.
But, as a large, but pretty average summer thunderstorm broke late this afternoon over New York, everyone on Facebook, Twitter, et al. started re-posting and talking about the same photo: an Instagram (of course) image of the storm as taken from a plane taking off from LGA (taken by a football player of some sort I guess).
compare it to this photo from the weather channel, that people seem to like and share quite a bit, but not nearly as much:
From a technical standpoint it’s no contest–the second photo is leaps and bounds better than the first. But EVERYONE, from pro photographers to news sites, to regular people, are posting and marveling over it (I re-posted it as soon as I saw it on Facebook too). Here’s my theory as to why:
1) People love to try to “out weather” each other. Anytime you talk to someone who lives in a different city/state/country as you, you most likely talk about the weather at some point and when you do you probably try to “out weather” each other. “It’s been so humid here, in the 90s.” “Yeah, it’s been like 105 here” –out weathered! “They say it’s going to snow all next week.” “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of weird hail here.”–out weathered! The storm in NYC wasn’t anything that crazy–it was a thunderstorm, but you didn’t even have to write the 140 characters about how it was really hot and now there is thunder and lightning, you just link to a photo like this and you’ve out weathered all your friends.
2) It’s a different perspective. Like how photos of the earth from space are old hat now, but took everyone’s breath away the first time we saw them. The Weather Channel photo is beautiful, but we’ve seen images like it before. There’s novelity in seeing it raining from above–it’s a perspective on something so commonplace that it gives us a sense of wonder in a world where we feel like we’ve “seen it all.”
Update: I also wrote about this photo over on PopPhoto.com, check that out here.