As of late, it seems we are being bombarded with tragic, controversial, & polarizing content that becomes a talking trend for weeks or at least until the next buzz hits the net. Much of this content has so many layers by the time we reach the base of it, we have over-consumed all of the sensational points and have no further interest in the facts, but there have to be lasting effects for this kind of constant behavior. We have become so desensitized and removed from humane engagement that we abruptly share videos, stories, and headlines without any consideration of their truth or impact.
We live in an era where watching black men, women, and children gunned down becomes a viral hit. Where psychopathic men use Facebook live to kill elderly individuals. Not to mention, we have a President who takes to social media and all other public platforms to boldly and falsely attack nations and distinguished figures creating a potential atmosphere for war and retaliation. None of this can be healthy for the progressive and positive psyche of our society. There are children being raised in a time where we value retweets more than sound and sane judgment of the context of the content. While one of the foundational purposes of the internet is to share moments, is it not necessary to discern the value of what we share?
It is realistic to believe that some individuals share the content for the sake of informing others, but undoubtedly there is a select group of people who share these clips for the sake of growing their own attention base. So now, how do we combat being overwhelmed with triggering images and material? Disengage.
For example, in the recent case of the Cleveland murderer who killed 78-year old Robert Godwin Sr. on Facebook live, the video has been shared countless times instead of just sharing the victim's image. You do not have to see the graphic details of a murder to feel the shock and compassion of tragic loss. Another example is the young teen who accidentally killed himself while playing with a gun, or the death of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and countless unfortunate others. We have to remember that these instances are not happening as a plot on your favorite scripted reality television show. This is real life and these circumstances have real effects. Consider if you were close to any of the circumstances would you want your memory reduced to a 30-second viral clip?
If we can acknowledge the influential power of advertising we must logically apply the same concept to viewing tragedy. Companies spend billions of dollars annually to grasp a moment of our attention with an expectation to drive sales, what becomes the mind of a person who ingests heinous material weekly without decompressing what they witnessed? It is more than ok to read the article without viewing the video. Investigate the headline and the sources before you spread the titling. Use the hide feature on platforms to weed out sensitive content. Do not be afraid to let your friends know that you have no interest in receiving that kind of material. Lastly, you are not obligated to be a part of every hot topic tragedy that the Internet trends. The need for mental stability far exceeds the need for social commentary.