Thursday, February 20, 2014

You Can't Unsee That

I have a friend on Facebook who regularly posts photos of abused dogs. It disturbs me a great deal. I've tried to hide as many of the sites as I can without unfriending her, but new ones slip through all the time. She posts as many as six of them every single day.

Why would I want to avoid this sort of unpleasantness? Don't I need to see it so that I can be indignant and do my part to battle against it?

The problem lies with the images. As the saying goes, I can't unsee those horrifying images. I want to be a woman who stands up against evil, but I don't want to introduce these images into my mind over and over after a casual experience on Facebook. Sometimes, when I first wake up in the morning, it takes me a while to sort out the carnage of those photos that hang in my memory from the night before, waiting for me to take up arms and battle them. I have to remember that it is not an occurrence from my daily life, that it was something I saw on the Internet. I have to work to remember that my life is good and basically healthy and that my dog and cat are safe and comfortable. From there, I think of my friends and acquaintances. Nope. They and their pets are not in danger either. So then, how am I supposed to fight against this unknown enemy?

That's the problem with this barrage of carnage. How can I achieve awareness and effect change without the recurrence of those horrifying images?

Years ago, I watched a news clip of people torturing an American soldier in Somalia. You probably know about that incident. They showed that clip in the news for four days. They made a movie about it. That twenty second image has stayed with me all these years and I still try to figure out how to manage what I saw then. I can't unsee what I saw. Maybe I'm not supposed to. That was news. Yet, how many times did I need to see it?

I've avoided watching the news since then. There's a sensationalism at work in the way news is presented and I don't want to support it, not in the news regarding American soldiers and not on the Internet regarding abused animals. I don't let Nick watch much news and even then, I'm pretty careful to sit him in front of CNN where news is presented in a more classical style. Don't you miss Walter Cronkite? I do. Nick and I have talked about this and when the storm hit the Philippines and the images started rolling in, he warned me not to watch too much television about it. He warned me. Sweet guy.

I had told him about how I'd been glued to the television for weeks after the bombing of the Twin Towers. Apparently, when a person watches the same news clip over and over again, the human mind has difficulty understanding that the event is not happening again and again and again. I've read psychologists analysis of this sort of thing, experts who warn that children should be shielded from seeing horrifying events repeated in the news. What about me? Doesn't my mind need to be shielded too?

So there you have it. I want to help. I really do. But how am I supposed to help this dog that was rescued in El Paso, Texas or Bean Blossom, Indiana or Sochi? I want to be aware of the events in the world, even to see some of the images of it so I can really begin to understand what happened.

But I don't want to fill my mind with gore every time I sit down to catch up with my friends on Facebook. I can help the local friend whose back went out by shopping and making a meal for her family. I can't bring home every dog who has been abandoned or abused in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Thank you for listening, jb

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