Thursday, 3 September 2015

Is anyone else sick of the horrible pictures being shared on Facebook?

For some reason I joined a group on Facebook. It's something something Isle of Wight blah blah. I don't even know why I do it. I always end up in arguments with people. It seems a singularly ridiculous way to spend one's time. But there you are. I'm a self employed writer. I'm basically born to procrastinate. 

On this group people post questions, jokes and all sorts of deeply boring and mundane stuff. None of them seem to have heard of Google and few of them are able to spell. But you know. Whatever. I can be tolerant. What? I CAN. 

Today someone posted about the distressing pictures on Facebook. She said that she was sick of seeing them and that Facebook is her fun place and people are ruining it. Her point was that Facebook is meant to be fun (says who, like? I don't remember anyone specifying what Facebook is 'for', other than to strip us of our personal information while gilding the lily with cat pictures and stupid memes). 

So, yer one says about how icky it is to see pictures of horrible things happening and shouldn't people stop all this nonsense and make sure that all she can see on her feed are pictures of babies and fairies. Or whatever it is that people like to look at. I dunno. 90% of my feed is made up of dog pictures, dog blogs, dog videos, amusing dog anecdotes and friends that like dogs. 

She is talking, I believe, particularly about the recent influx of pictures showing deeply distressed, crying, dying, howling refugees desperately trying to get their families to safety. The picture of the boy, face down in the sand. Dead at 12. Dead for want of asylum. 

I mean, I can totes see how those put a crimp on your day. 

Naturally I got involved. Because I just can never let it lie. Man, I miss Vic and Bob. 

My points are nothing particularly spectacular. If you have a shred of humanity, that is. This appropriation of Facebook as something that 'should' do this or 'shouldn't' do that fascinates me. People talk like they have a say. Like they bought a product. And they're SO indignant. 

That's what I like about Facebook. 

My life is small. My worries are small. I've managed to turn them into a full blown anxiety disorder because I am that special. But I don't have to worry about my safety on a daily basis. I don't have to live in a tent because my home is no longer safe. I don't have to risk my life trying to get my children somewhere where they won't be blown to bits. I will never have to experience being TURNED AWAY for help, because I was born in the wrong place. 

And, while I wake up and dither about my day, with all my worries and stresses about work and clients and money and yada yada, I scroll through Facebook. Like most people I've customised my feed so that I only see what I want to see. 

A metaphor for life innit. 

It's simple in our world, over here, where we're safe, to switch off. Just watch Netflix and eat cake. Concentrate on our own. Breathe in and out. Get through the day. Hope our loved ones remain safe, well and happy for another 24 hours. And then have some wine. 

I scroll through my feed and like what I see. Friends that make me laugh and interesting things and books and author profiles and cat pictures and dog videos. 

And, every now and again BLAM. A dead child. A crying father. 

Like a slap round the face. 

I knew about the Syrian crisis. Of course I did. I'm a sentient human being with eyes and ears. But until I saw the image of the crying father in the boat the other week, it didn't HIT me in the solar plexus. This is happening right now. We are watching a humanitarian crisis unfold on our doorstep. I believe it's going to affect every single one of us in the long term, and we are witnessing the beginning of some profound and uncomfortable changes. 

With no guidance from our own government, with no humanity in the good leaders of our country, what else can we do but band together with the technology on hand and at least TRY. We shouldn't look away and we shouldn't stop sharing images. Because for every person that scrolls past or ignores it, someone somewhere will do something to help. 

I saw a Spectator piece today moaning about how sharing a picture of a dead child does nothing for anyone and it's just narcissistic. His point, I believe, is that many, many people stop at the sharing. But many, many DON'T. They actually do something, no matter how small it feels on a global scale. 

I'm rubbish and self absorbed and full of worries about the day's work, so naturally I didn't get it together to work out a way I could help anyone. Any of these people in the pictures. But Facebook showed me someone who is. Someone local who is collecting and helping. And now I'm donating to that. And yes, maybe it is some way of trying to alleviate Western guilt at the fact that I'm not suffering, but SO WHAT. It's better than turning away. 

And that's why I will never hide these pictures from my Facebook feed and my everyday life. 

As for the girl whose question sparked this train of thought with her question, I explained to her the concept of customising her feed. Genuinely blew her mind. AMAZING. 


  1. well said and I had exactly the same issue today with a friend on my list...she got a reply :) your writing,

  2. We live in a digital age where images of anything and everything are thrust before us day in and day out. People read less and less and it is the images that we see that are now used as tools to manipulate the way that we think, to snap us out of our Netflix coma and to control the way we behave. The war in Syria has been going on for a long time and has been largely ignored by the media and yet now, masses of people are trying to escape. Why now? Why not years ago? Why are they all flooding into Europe and not heading for Muslim countries, where, as Islam suggests, that they would be welcomed with open arms. It is terrible that people should be in this state, especially children and the images that we are fed are heart rending, but I can understand why there is such a reluctance to open borders to what for some would appear to be an invasion of Muslims. How many fundamentalist Jihadists will be hiding among those innocents? Islam aims to take over the world, and while European populations are falling there are spaces to be filled by those seeking a better life than they have now. Who can blame them? Personally, I feel that the images that offend or upset are preferable to those of domestic pets.