I wish to apologize to the development team at Four Funnels Entertainment for being such an impatient, easily distracted oaf. This past weekend I learned I am utterly incapable of watching history unfold, particularly if my phone is nearby.
I had planned to watch a two-hour-and-40-minute, computer animated YouTube video showing the doomed ship Titanic sinking in real time. Created to promote the upcoming video game release, Titanic: Honor and Glory, the video entices viewers to stare at a screen for the same amount of time it takes to fly from Chicago to Orlando, only without beverage service. As I write this, the video has garnered more than 6 million views.
Judging by the "comments" section, most viewers admittedly couldn't keep themselves from pausing the video repeatedly or multitasking while a 52,000-ton ship plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The remarks ranged from the humorous -- "They should make a movie about this!"-- to the macabre -- "Watching 2,000 people dying. Looks great!"-- to comments posted by armchair ship captains -- "They should have turned towards (sic) the iceberg and hit it head on letting the bow take the damage."
Beware the vicious, early 20th century Internet troll.
I decided I would attempt to view the video uninterrupted. For two reasons: Pay homage to the creators, who obviously took great pains to animate such a lengthy project, and determine whether I could avoid succumbing to distractions for 160 minutes. I set my cell phone to vibrate, closed all browser windows, save for YouTube, and shut my office door, informing my wife I did not want to be disturbed because I was "watching something on the computer." Probably not the best choice of words.
I clicked "play." One minute and seven seconds later, the Titanic struck the iceberg. I expected to see a flurry of activity immediately thereafter. Instead, for nine and a half minutes, I saw nothing. Just a ship that, to my untrained nautical eye, looked perfectly capable of hosting a midnight buffet on the Seabreeze deck while a Bob Marley cover band continuously played "One Love". (Yes, I've taken a Caribbean cruise). Of course, that wasn't true; I know from watching various History Channel documentaries and repeated viewings of the James Cameron movie that water was pouring into the ship's hull, Captain Edward Smith was assessing the woefully inadequate lifeboat supply and Kate Winslet was the proud owner of a naked self-portrait.
My dog whimpered, signaling her need to go out. "Not now," I said, as if I expected her to be aware of my goal. She persisted and I relented. Rather than pause the video, I let it play and walked her to our neighborhood park, a 10-minute round trip jaunt. "What could possibly happen in 10 minutes?" I asked myself.
The answer? Nothing. When I returned to my PC, it was if I had never left. The ship was still floating upright. Pangs of boredom began to dot my brain. Just then, my phone buzzed. A text from an old friend.
"What are you doing?"
"Watching the Titanic sink. But it's boring." I typed back.
"Just scroll to the end," came the reply.
"No, I'm watching it in real time. Goodbye," I typed, before putting the phone in a drawer.
At 38:16 I was informed, through on-screen text, that Titanic was "taking on a starboard list." I barely noticed for I was reading and responding to an email from a business colleague. THIS was important, starboard list be damned.
By the time I had finished the exchange, Titanic was clearly in trouble but I had grown too impatient to scroll back. I took my friend's advice and moved the time slider to 2:39:27, the moment the ship splits in two. I zoomed past beautifully rendered images of the ship's Grand Staircase succumbing to sea water and smokestacks tumbling into the ocean. Again, Four Funnels, I'm sorry. Your work is impeccable but, sadly, still no match for that number one distraction: the iPhone. More than 6 million viewers probably agree.
I just wanted you to be aware before you decide to recreate the Hundred Years' War and upload it to YouTube.
NOTE: For those with busy schedules, watch the Titanic sink in 30 seconds.