Is this a familiar scenario?
It’s getting on toward dinner time. The house is uncharacteristically quiet for just a few moments. The dogs are upstairs. You’re beginning to think about starting dinner.
You have a few moments so you pick up your phone and begin scrolling Facebook’s newsfeed.
What are your friends up to? What dinner plans or fun activities are people talking about?
You’ll just take a moment and give things a quick look.
Out Of The Blue – Right Between The Eyes
Bam!!!! Amidst the photos of kids playing in the pool, restaurant dinner pics and assorted light-hearted fare is a picture of an abused animal. Or a mistreated child. Or some other horrendous tragedy.
Right there between a funny minnion picture and a shot of an awesome sunset.
It slams you in the face, burrows into your head, takes root in your psyche.
It’s not as if you don’t know these things happen. In fact, you’re the first one to give to charitable organizations. You volunteer and offer your help whenever you can. Maybe you’re even a foster mom for homeless animals or run an animal rescue center.
You have causes you believe in, that you champion.
You don’t bury your head in the sand. You don’t go into denial. You’re not in the habit of passively ignoring the wrongs you see.
But sometimes it’s just too much. It’s too hard to take.
It’s what I’ve heard referred to as compassion fatigue. A very real form of tramatic stress disorder suffered by those who work closely, day in and day out, with abused and frightened creatures — human or otherwise.
And while most of the time, you buck up and take a stand, raise your voice, and give selflessly, it can begin to take a toll.
Sometimes these stories and images rip open your heart and soul, leaving you feeling shattered for the rest of the night.
Sometimes you just can’t take another one.
Overload and Guilt- Finding Balance
So this one time, you click off as fast as you can. You scroll on past, looking for something to lift you back up.
Then the guilt sets in. You feel bad, like you’re ignoring a very real problem. You wonder if you’re being selfish.
You want to do something, but you don’t know what.
You feel helpless.
The Dark Side of Social Media
I’ve often said that social media and the internet in general are not for the faint of heart.
We tend to think of social media as fun, lighthearted, a mild distraction.
But so often, it’s brutal.
If you’re going to play on that field, you have to learn to take the good with the bad. The fun with the tragic. The trivial with the imperative.
I’m all about staying informed. Not burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is just hunky-dory.
My Personal Social Media Sledge Hammers
The plight of abused and homeless animals is a particularly difficult one for me. I admit it. It tends to rip me apart more than any other horror I run across.
There’s something about an innocent animal, so completely undeserving of the ill treatment all too often inflicted upon them, often at the hands of someone they trust, that just sears my soul.
Maybe it’s the complete innocence of these creatures, cruelly mistreated and abused at the hands of evil sickos, that makes it so tough.
Or more likely the total senselessness of it, the harm inflicted with such cruelty.
Whatever the reason, it’s so hard to take.
And when I scroll social media newsfeeds, I’m not looking for these images and stories. It’s not what I’m expecting.
But by now I should be. Because it’s inevitable.
You will see these stories. It’s unavoidable.
Social Media To Fight Evil
We do have to spread the word, take a stand for those who can’t fight themselves. There’s no better place to do that than on social media. I’ve done it myself, I admit, when I’ve posted something that made my blood boil.
“Look. Look at this horror! We need to make this stop! Now!”
But every time I share one of these stories, I know it’s going to reach into an unsuspecting heart. I pause, for just a moment, and ask myself, should I share this?
It’s a conundrum. Get the word out, take action that might — just might — go toward making changes, or let people enjoy their evening.
I’m not sure what the answer is. We can’t ignore horrors that so badly need exposure if we hope to ever change them. To stop them.
To make people sit up, take notice, and take action.
But sometimes I just don’t want to feel the pain. Sometimes it’s just too much.
I won’t stop scrolling social media feeds. I won’t hide in the dark or wear rose-colored glasses.
We cannot sweep evil and tragedy aside, pretending it’s not there.
But there are those times I just want to relax. To believe, for just a little while, that no living creature is ever abused.
That everything is good.
Maybe on those days when I feel especially raw, for whatever reason, I should just put my phone or computer on the table, turn it off and keep it silent.
Not to be in denial. Just to take a break.
Tomorrow I’ll take on the world and all of its wrongs.
Tomorrow I’ll take up the sword and march ahead.
I do believe we can change things, if we work together.
It’s okay to look away, just for a moment.
As long as you’re prepared, and ready, to look back.