The Neener Factor

By Sandy Long

Have you ever wondered why people are so fascinated with police writing some poor person a ticket or when going by an accident site that they slow down to almost a stop?

Doesn’t matter who it is either…little ol’ men and women, business people or teenagers…they all do it. This has to be one of the great imponderables of trucking down the highway.  I think I finally have it figured out.
The other day, there was a couple of troopers searching a SUV while the driver stood handcuffed next to the patrol car, along side of the interstate.  It took me about an hour to navigate the five miles up to where they were because of the Looky Lous.  Gave me time to ponder this great mystery.
As a student of history, I know that throughout the ages people gathered to watch executions, battles, gladiator contests to the death with animals and other humans, brutal sporting events, often times turning these blood baths into a fair like atmosphere.  Boxing has always brought out crowds to watch two people beat the other to bloody submission.  It appears that in two events, car racing and bull riding, the spectators actually want to see the big wrecks and falls.
Wrestling too comes to mind.  People crowd auditoriums and around their TV sets to watch men and women attack each other with trash cans, tables, chairs and slam into them with every part of their bodies.  Of course we know that it is high theater, but think about how involved the spectators get into the action.  Some have even attacked performers outside of the ring because of their in ring persona.  Let two wrestlers get in the ring and scientifically wrestle and the crowd boos them…they want to see blood!
Blood lust is a genetic part of a human being’s make up.  It is part of the fight or flight part of our brain.  It spurs adrenalin to rush through our systems and in some gives them a rush akin to drugs.  This attribute used to be burned off during battle and survival against wild life and the elements.  In today’s society, it is suppressed, one cannot go around physically fighting wild animals and killing people at will after all…it is just not done according to Emily Post!
Our highways have become so crowded that they relate to the survival of the fittest.  It is the accepted way to do battle for some with one’s life on the line.  This is seen with all of those people who dart in and out of lanes cutting off everyone, even someone driving something as big as we do, and out racing everyone.  The herd instinct is also evident in the bunching up of cars and trucks running at highway speeds.  Safety in numbers right?  No.  Have you noticed all the huge multi vehicle pile ups?  Directly related to herd mentality.
Slowing down to look at a wreck is akin to putting one’s foot on one’s foe and shouting about your victory.  You won the battle that day…that poor person getting put in the ambulance or worse, lost.  Their charger is dead and their armor is battered.  You survived and they didn’t.  You were smarter, wiser and a better driver.
Figuring out why people slow down to look at a police writing a ticket or searching a vehicle is harder to understand.  Could they be looking to see if they know the person getting the ticket?  Could they be looking to see if the officer or trooper might need assistance so they can stop and do battle to save the police, or in some cases the bad guy?  Is it the modern way of staving off fatigue and boredom of a long trip?  Are they taking this opportunity to instruct their children about the costs of not obeying the laws?
Nope, I don’t think so, I think both reasons for Looky Lous are the Neener Factor at work.
Remember when you got in trouble at school and were being reprimanded by the teacher and the other kids, even your best friend who was into the mischief as badly as you but hadn‘t gotten caught, giggled to see you being punished?  Did you ever have a younger sibling that would stand back while you got a spanking and snickered all the while you howled?  Yep, I think it is just what those people are doing, snickering at someone who got caught doing something wrong or lost the battle of the highways.
So, next time you have to creep along for hours in a miles long back up due to the rubber necking Looky Lous going 2 miles an hour past an accident scene or where a police is writing a ticket, now you can imagine every one of them going “Neener, Neener, Neener! I won, you lost“ or “You got caught and I didn’t!” as they pass by.
Whether I am right or wrong about both of the Looky Lou situation explanations doesn’t really matter.  I will promise though that the next time I am in a back up situation and getting frustrated, I will giggle thinking about that well dressed couple ahead of me in their Hummer looking at the scene on the shoulder going “Neener, Neener, Neener!”  with a glint in their eye.  It will lessen my stress while inching along so people can relieve their primal urges….and of course, I would never think “Neener, Neener, Neener!” as I passed another trucker getting a ticket on the shoulder, neither would you…or would we???
Ya’ll be safe out there!