Rubber-necking the crash scene

I came across a Facebook posting from someone on my friend feed the other day. It popped up again today as someone made a comment that jumped it back up. It was a post that I had made a very conscious decision to pretty much avoid reading the other day as it was troublesome to me.

It was a “share” of a horrific case of neglect and abuse that ended in the death of a toddler. I gathered that information from a one line heading that was with a picture. The other couple of sentences that were immediately visible gave me enough of an insight to the article that I knew that I didn’t want to read it. So I kept scrolling and tried to put it out of mind. I was pretty successful. I did think for a few minutes about my choice to not click and keep reading though. My thoughts were pretty simple actually. The couple of lines of text that I had read were enough to put a nasty knot in my stomach and upset me. I have been known to follow through with a click and expose myself to something that literally haunts me for days afterwards and I have started to wonder what purpose it serves…

There is the argument that we (the communal “we” as a society and culture) need to see these things; that we need to know about the atrocities and the hateful things that people do to people so that we can be knowledgeable… so that we can be enraged and moved to affect change. Good argument. But is that what really happens? Not from what I can see. We become enraged and even disgusted. We commiserate and agree that it’s horrible, that it has to stop, that people can be monsters… it goes on and on. And there is always another “share” another post, another story of what grossness and evil lives in our world with us. More lives lost, more people hurt and damaged. Fear takes hold. Accusations are tossed about.

What happens is the virtual petting and stroking and assurances that “we” are better than all that. That if we just keep talking and exposing all the horrors, then we can somehow end them. What happens is that we have a culture of people who are addicted to riding the wave of the next tragedy.

I’m not saying the answer is to stop news reporting or to pretend that these things happen but what purpose does it serve to gawk and dissect the pain and suffering of it all? You can’t “un-see” or “un-read” something so be conscious of what feeds your soul by way of your eyes and ears. If reading those facts will serve a reason and a purpose, all good. If not, and if all it is is a virtual rubber-necking of the proverbial crash scene, maybe think twice about how it will impact you and be honest to yourself with the answer. I can read a headline and be outraged and want to change something without having to read an entire article that outlines, in grotesque and painful detail, things that I won’t be able to get out of my mind. “More” is not always necessary… actually, it rarely is.

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