We all have different tolerance levels for various things. My tolerance level for things that offend me is set very high - I am not easily offended at all. My tolerance level for suffering is set very low - I am very easily upset by the suffering of others, especially suffering of children. I am like a sponge when it comes to other people's suffering. If a story about a child being abused, raped or murdered comes on the radio, I switch it off immediately. I do not follow stories about missing children on the news. I change the channel if a program comes on about children being hurt or dying. It is not that I pretend that it doesn't exist - I am overly aware that there is an enormous amount of suffering that goes on in the world, and especially in my country. Believe me when I say I am fully aware, however for my own sanity and the management of my day to day anxiety (which is usually hovering close to out of control), I can't have these words and images burnt even deeper into my brain. I know and hear about the suffering, but I can't know the intimate details - I will replay that story over and over in my head until I can barely function. The details haunt me. Some people can hear a story about a missing child or see a picture about an abused child or animal and feel sympathy and move on. I don't, I don't move on. I am haunted by it for ages.
I know that children go missing - I feel tremendous pain for their parents, I worry about their safety, I take proactive (and sometimes paranoid) steps to prevent it from happening to my children.
I know that children get abused - I personally know adults who have suffered the pain of abuse when they were children. It breaks my heart to hear how their innocence was robbed. I am ever vigilant with my own children.
I am very aware that there are so many children in the world and especially in Africa who are hungry, scared and alone. It breaks my heart that children have to suffer - I donate as much as I can, I help where ever I can.
I know all of this, but I choose not to read, stare, study, hear and internalize the details. I don't need the details to take action.
And yet I am ambushed on a daily basis on Facebook and other social media sites (although FB is by far the worse) by people who think that others need to be shocked and horrified into action by posting pictures and stories about children and / or animals who are abused and suffering. Who will post pictures of a bloody fetus after abortion, of a child beaten black and blue, of a bloody Rhino with its horn hacked off. What purpose does this serve? Do you think that forcing the horrible images into the minds and psyches of people on Facebook is going to feed that hungry child? Is going to save the dying Rhino? What purpose does it serve besides sicken, shock and traumatise some people who already care, perhaps too much? And I wonder, the people who are posting the pictures of the blood, guts and gore - what else do you do besides force horror on others? Do you only post pictures or do you donate to the causes? Do you volunteer? Do you take action? Or are you posting the picture so that you can portray yourself as a tree-hugging, Rhino loving Mother Theresa? Are you posting the picture in some misguided sense of solidarity with the suffering child or animal? They don't need you to force their picture into the timeline of other people's lives - they need you to quietly and resolutely take action to help. And I need not to be further traumatised by having those painful images burnt into my already overly empathetic psyche.
Stop posting horrific pictures of suffering on Facebook - if you feel moved to assist animals, children or people - go make a donation or volunteer your time somewhere. Or else I am going to think the only thing you want is attention. And I am going to unfriend your shock-causing intrusive ass.