Right now on Facebook, news websites and well, the internet as a whole, several disturbing things are going around. Nothing unusual I suppose; the internet is full of horrible stuff. People are horrible. But with Facebook, and autoplay on websites, we’re being exposed to the horrors of reality more often and more easily than ever.
I’m talking about the video of the recently filmed shooting in Virginia (no video) and the images of the dead children lying in the surf (no link for obvious reasons).
Not that we should be avoiding it, or ignoring it, but the way we expose ourselves to the horrors of reality is no longer under our control. We are being forced to look at things we are already aware of. We are aware of these things without seeing them. Without watching the videos, seeing the images.
I can read the news, I know what is happening. I have seen pictures and watched news that does not involve me seeing dead children and the last moment of a person’s life.
Let me just clarify something: I do believe in free speech. I believe that the media has the right to post pictures and videos of these tragedies. Whether they are right to do it is another matter and a debate for another day. My problem is whether we get a choice. These are not pictures for the front page. These newspapers are sitting on shelves all over the world in easy access. We should have the choice to buy them and turn the page to see the pictures, or to skip over them entirely. It is not a video to be on auto-play on websites. We should be able to read the story without having to watch it unfold before we can hit the pause button. These are not pictures for you to share on facebook. We should have the choice to find out about the deaths of these poor children without being forced to see them before we are ready. If we are ever ready.
The media, people in general, have the freedom to print and post these pictures and videos. I should have the choice to avoid them if I want. That choice is taken away from me if the photos are on my facebook feed, the front page of nearly every newspaper I encounter in my local shop. If the video starts playing as soon as a website loads.
Yes, I can keep scrolling through my facebook feed, turn away from the newspaper stand, pause the video but the damage has already been done.
I haven’t watched the Virginia TV shooting, but I did see the pictures of the drowned children. It took a little while to process what I was seeing before I scrolled down, kept scrolling and now they’ve disappeared into the bowels of my facebook feed hopefully never to be seen again.
A fundamental part of our souls is affected by everything we see. A part of me will never be the same again. It’s the same for everything thing I am exposed to, good or bad – sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse. It chips away at the very core of our being and there is only so much we can take as human beings – with the consciousness we have before it’s too much. Some people have a harder constitution than others, some people can take more of a beating, more chips at the soul than others. We should at least get the choice to choose what we let affect us, because who’s to say that wasn’t going to be the last straw for me.
Who has seen those pictures and said enough? Done something foolish, irrational, life-changing. Something terrible.
There will only be so much as a society we can take too. Bit by bit we come closer to breaking point and it scares me. We expose ourselves to so much horror already without having more forced upon ourselves. The world is both horrible and wonderful, but every day it’s a fight for the balance to shift one way or another. How long before everything wonderful falls away and we’re only left we the last moments of a woman’s life recorded for all to see, and the bodies of the next generation already rotting in the sea.