Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A diet of brutality

I'm a gentle, sensitive soul. I try to treat other people with compassion and courtesy, and I hope they will do the same with me. I recoil at any type of violence, I find it very hard to handle.

So I have a big problem with the daily diet of violence and brutality that's served up by the media. I find the endless reports of wars and repression and bigotry so disturbing, but there's no simple way to deal with them.

There's little or nothing I can do to reduce the violence, since it's other people who are responsible. I'm left feeling helpless and hopeless, just passively looking on at the carnage. There's such a constant deluge of violence that I become slightly numbed to it, only half-aware of the full horror and misery. It becomes almost like watching a film, and I have to keep reminding myself that these are real people and real sufferings, not just something hammed up for the cameras.

I could try to ignore the media altogether, so I'm not exposed to all the violence and the tangled emotions it stirs up in me. But it's important to know what's going on in the world, what's happening to other people. I can't just put my head in the sand as if nobody else exists. In any case, the media is now so ubiquitous, so far-reaching, that it's virtually impossible to get away from it. The latest atrocity is beamed instantly into every departure lounge and every health centre.

I could throw myself into all the public protest - signing petitions, going to rallies, talking to my MP, writing to the papers. If I'm feeling exceptionally troubled by something, I'll do that, but at the end of the day, governments usually go their own sweet way and ignore public opinion if it suits them. And no public protest will have any effect on all the unaccountable terrorists, freedom fighters, religious zealots and assorted militants who are pursuing their own notions of justice and adding to the savagery.

Sometimes I think of that old slogan "Stop the world, I want to get off...."

Pic: a woman injured at a rally in Athens over a 15 year old student murdered by police


  1. I stopped watching the news years ago. Even the local news can be horrifying. The newspaper gives me all the news I need, with zero footage.

  2. Bijoux: That's very determined of you. I don't watch TV very much, but there are plenty of horrific stories in the newspapers....

  3. Over twenty years of no teevee and stopped the daily newspapers over a year ago.
    I just couldn't take it all. I didn't want to become desensitized.
    And it wasn't the 'big stuff' it was the petty local murders and thefts and mayhems. My view of the world was becoming too slanted and appalled.
    We all need good news too Nick and there's not enough of it. We need to notice our own.

  4. www: This is it, it's easy to become desensitized when every day brings another torrent of media violence. And yes, the local stuff just as much as the global conflicts.

  5. I even had to skim quickly to get past that picture. I dn't watch the news, I rarely read the paper. I just don't find it helpful to keep myself immersed in news of sorrow and violence. Especially since I hear so many personal horror stories every day at work. When I'm off the clock, I want to remind myself about what is good in the world.

  6. Agent: I might change the pic, it's a bit gruesome. I don't deliberately immerse myself in stories of violence, but they jump out at me whenever I read the paper.

  7. Agent: I replaced the pic with something less grisly.

  8. I don't have TV, and if I want visuals to go with a news item that I hear about on the radio, it will be available on the net. Unfortunately the the gruesome seems to gain more space that the good and the small.

    The thing is, we cannot save everyone, so need to focus on one area where we can do something.

  9. Grannymar: You're right, the gruesome does seem to get the biggest coverage. Which only encourages those responsible to commit more atrocities. The oxygen of publicity, as a famous politician once put it.

  10. I am so with you on this one.

    It got so bad for me that I did, in fact, stop watching the news altogether, and no longer get a daily paper. What the media and those who are addicted to it tend to forget is that watching helplessly while being fed a diet of brutality and cruelty and deprivation adds hugely to our personal stress burden. When I realised how badly it was affecting me, I opted out.

    I also unfriend people on Facebook who insist on posting links to carnage and cruelty cases. In the end, one has to be self-protective. I do what I can with causes that are close to my heart and close to home, but with the best will in the world, how much am I likely to be able to affect a war several countries away? How am I supposed to influence cruel cultures and governments in faraway places? It's impossible.

    I began to back off when I realised that when I read something about which I could do nothing but react on a personal level, I shake, my heart pounds, and I can't sleep that night (or for many nights, depending on what it is). My level of general anxiety (never exactly in the basement) goes through the roof, and the net result? I become ineffective in my own, personal daily life, and become a burden on the health service and my family. What use is that?

  11. Jay: That's bad, having such a strong personal reaction to all the violence in the media. As you say, if it's really upsetting, it can interfere with our everyday activities.

    I know what you mean about Facebook friends who go in for gruesome posts you just find disturbing. Indeed, there's probably nothing we can do about these things, so what's the point?

  12. NB: Anyone who has a Wordpress blog - I'm making comments but they disappear when I try to publish them.

  13. Hey, Nick - I've just dug a couple of your comments out of my spam folder. Sorry not to find them sooner, but my spam filter is so good that very few get through ... Anyway, now I've marked them as 'not spam', hopefully you won't have any more trouble leaving comments.

    Yeah, my reaction to upsetting things in the media is bad, and it's very annoying because it's completely out of my control. I'm particularly affected by deliberate cruelty, and simply cannot understand how people can do some of the things they do. But heigh ho. We learn to survive, do we not?

  14. Jay: Yes, Speccy had some comments in her spam box as well!

    Deliberate cruelty distresses me too. I don't understand how people can be so cold and heartless. They've been emotionally damaged somewhere along the line.