Linda G. Hill

Life in progress

Today’s News and What Social Media Finds Acceptable

75 Comments

I know I’m setting myself up for criticism here, but I just can’t not say anything. It’s been bugging me all day. I’ve accepted the fact that occasionally I’m stuck with coming across an image I don’t want to see on my Facebook news feed – sometimes it’s (in my opinion) poor judgement on the part of a ‘friend’ and sometimes (more often than not) it’s something that Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, has decided I want to see. But today takes the cake.

I am, of course, talking about pictures of beached babies. Isn’t it bad enough to hear about it? I have in fact NOT heard that much about it because I fear of the visuals I might come across online. Let me make this clear: I do not want to look at dead bodies. I don’t care how old they are, but particularly… I can’t even type it. It upsets me that much.

You might be thinking I’m burying my head in the sand, wishing it away to make it all better. I’m not. I acknowledge that innocent people die for many reasons all over the world every day. I’d save every one of them if I could.

You might also be thinking, “Oh poor Linda, not wanting to see things that hurt her poor feelings. How do you think the families feel?” Exactly! How would you feel if you accidentally came across a picture of a loved one, dead for all the world to see just so a point can be made? It’s not something I could ever forgive and certainly not something I’d ever forget.

If I’m missing something obvious to everyone else, please let me know. As I said, I haven’t heard the official story. It’s sad when it comes down to not knowing what’s going on because of the horribly bad taste of a photographer.

I have so had it with social media.

Author: LindaGHill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

75 thoughts on “Today’s News and What Social Media Finds Acceptable

  1. Yes, freedom of speech has become some sort of oxymoron. I often wish to state my opinions on world events but have to refrain from being condemned. And so I read instead and keep my views limited to close, personal friends.

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  2. Totally agree too. These images are gratuitous and horrible. Too much focus on social media fame and so little compassion.

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  3. As an aside Linda, I did a guest post over at Cordelia’s Mom http://cordeliasmomstill.com/2015/08/31/gramps-guest-post-by-paul-curran/comment-page-1/#comment-13189 It is my first attempt at fiction and I would be honored if you had the time to drop by for a read. Especially since you are writer, I would be interested in any comments on style or structure.

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  4. I had so much to say in response to this, that I thought a post would be better. https://mewhoami.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/limited-perception-of-the-world/

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  5. Pingback: Open Your Eyes – Get Uncomfortable | Me – Who am I?

  6. It’s social media hate week, huh? I was already over a lot of it, but made my semi-break from my personal pages on twitter and facebook earlier this week. I really only have tolerance now for here (because I don’t follow people I don’t like!) and Instagram (because…well, same reason, but all pictures).

    I think the news in general is just too much too. I can’t tell you the last time I watched the local news station at home (which I know is sad for a bunch of reasons).

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  7. I don’t know about other pictures but frankly Linda, if it weren’t for that picture, half the world would still be sleeping through the deaths of those Syrian kids. Because pictures go viral much more easily than written posts.
    Yet I do understand your reaction to those pictures.
    The truth is that this world is a shit place either way.
    We’re too busy attending concerts and shows to ever care.
    The whole picture thing aside, it’s just sad that syria’s own neighboring countries have shut the door to refugees.
    People cause a lot of pain with their actions. And yeah, it’s quite depressing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I understand your concern, especially over the possibility of a loved one seeing such a picture. But, these are the types of pictures that people need to see in order to get a wake up call. We may say that we already know what’s going on in the world, but even then, we only open our minds as far as we can comfortably, without having to endure too much pain. People don’t like to face the hard truth of a matter – the truth that hurts and causes painful pictures like that one to occur. But, can’t stay comfortable. Being comfortable doesn’t cause change to happen. We need to get very uncomfortable. We need to get stirred up and we need to have our blood boiling. Then and only then, will changes happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is exactly why I choose not to have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and all the other social media outlets. Too much bulls**t.

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  10. I feel quite conflicted about this. Personally, I do not need to see images to know what’s going on. This was the conversation with The Husband over lunch today. He’s been in a war. His view is that people should see the images because it’s the only way to drive home, man’s inhumanity to man. War, ultimately, profoundly damages ordinary people and it if, through releasing images like this, ordinary people can stop war, then is something good achieved? He and I have to agree to differ.

    On the other hand, and in addition to my own not wishing to see images like this, because I do not need them to know what is going on, I also hate the indignity for the child and I feel for that poor man who has lost virtually his entire family and who has now become public property.

    In terms of the social media, I resent, often, what appears on my timeline from some people, including pictures like this and of bloodied, injured animals, not to mention the spreading of inaccurate emotional political diatribes. I scan, ignore and in some instances hide. I stay on Facebook because it is a useful way of staying in touch with people who are far away, and it can be a source of reliable news – if one selects the sources carefully.

    And no, Linda, you are definitely not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fiona I also agree with your husband about not sanitizing war — too much has been done in the USA on what we’ve done and had done to us in wars. I simply need to pick my timing. I occasionally do dip into relatively safe places where I know that the images will not be for gratuitous reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I understand your view but disagree. That photo has led to a change in thinking in Europe. The uk are about to announce a major increase in the numbers they are willing to take in. That baby’s photo has saved tens of thousands. My 13 year old said it best. ‘If my baby had to die I’d wish he were that one’

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  12. Getting off Facebook sounds delightful… telling Zuckerberg where to stick his social media juggernaut… I’m afraid I’d lose contact with the family, though. I’m making ample use of the “I don’t want to see this” function and have stopped following a number of people for publishing things like that. It’s a cheap, trashy, journalism-school ploy to sell more newspapers or advertising time, and dumping it on social media just makes it easier.

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  13. I’ve stopped looking at my Facebook newsfeed. I will keep my account for business purposes, check notifications, and click straight to the groups I enjoy. The newsfeed is dangerous ground: political rants, tragic news, and incessant drama. I just can’t anymore. And I agree with you 100%…we can care and pray without visuals. Great post, thanks!

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  14. I agree with you, Linda. I stopped buying newspapers after 9/11 and rarely go through newsfeeds of facebook in the past 3 years. I have plenty of friends or colleagues who are non too happy to share bad news, thank you very much. I read about atrocious things happening all over the world on newsfeeds online (various national papers) I skim through…like you , I can read it but the images affect me so much and with the work I do, I would be asking my callers to support my depressed mood. I do see how it can be a strategy to get people outraged but most of the time I feel it is a violation of people’s privacy…let them grieve for pete sakes!! and selling newspapers. Great post my dear!!

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  15. Maybe it’s the European perspective, but I disagree I’m afraid.

    The only reason you are talking about this (and are quite rightly upset by it) is because people are posting stuff on the news and on social media.
    The same argument may as well have been made about footage of the Nazi death camps, the famine in Ethiopia, the slaughter of students in Tiananmen square, or any number of police shootings in America.
    History will only teach us its lessons if the images are burned into our consciousness and the best way of doing that is by outrage.

    I firmly believe that, even at this far remove, everyone should still see what human beings were capable of in the concentration camps of WWII and anywhere else the evil than man does is documented, because it really is the best incentive to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    In the case of three year old Aylan Kurdi, the boy who tragically died (along with his mother and brother) when the boat they were on capsized, his father (an extraordinarily dignified man who had the appalling task of swimming ashore with the bodies of his entire family in his arms) is aware of the heartbreaking photo that has been so widely shared and hopes that the reaction to it will somehow kick-start the unforgivably slow European union into some action.

    I’m not sure how much of a news story this is outside of Europe, but it is one that a great many people over here are very angry about; politicians using helpless families – victims of torture and genocide – to score political points and leverage deals about “quotas” with neighbouring countries.

    So I have no compunction at all about posting occasional distressing images on social media, (I’m sorry if you find this insensitive, but believe me when I say I find them no less upsetting myself) especially if it means that even one extra person adds their voice to the chorus of anger and frustration that anyone with an ounce of humanity should justly feel.

    I don’t mean to imply that there is anyone here that doesn’t feel that impotent fury, but I think that unintentionally offending a few, for the sake of bringing the plight of many to their attention is a small price to pay.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I want to read about it but not see images. Some may not be visual, but I am. I don’t watch horror (but I can read it) and extremely violent images don’t disturb me, they violently slam me for days with nightmares. It is better if I am prepared — that is, I occasionally go to read news where I am aware that I may see an image. I watched the people jump from the twin towers and wept, and yes, I had nightmares.

      Next will come the day when the bodies are literally dropped on us — imagine, if you will having the severed head of the horse in your LAP. For some of us, an image is that horrifying. Maybe then the non-visual but kinesthetic folks will get it. I can know bout Nazi camps, war, death, and support animal rights all without feeling violently slammed and having nightmares. It is NOT about sticking my head in the sand but about not being able to sleep.

      Further, I want to discuss terrorists and trophy hunters. Posting their work online and letting that stuff (gads how many times did I have to see the giraffe and her smiling face, or the bloodied lion?? — animal heads and their gleeful faces, images of a 9-11 incident) gives them EXACTLY what they want — they want the notoriety! Helps their cause — it is the reason they do this stuff.

      And in FB, I know that one can post the story and drop the image. It is easy. The discussion and awareness can be had without the visuals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If the whole world has nightmares, that’s still a small price.

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        • You miss the point. Possibly you did not read my post. My sleepless nights don’t help with the issue. I notice the biggest animal rights groups have gotten the message — they don’t send out emails with tortured animal images. They give folks links of they NEED to see it (sometimes people don’t believe it until they see it) to have it make a difference — but the emails themselves no longer contain horror. They understood what it was getting them was no readership. If you think the politicians and corporate sponsors are having sleepless nights, and that my nightmares will somehow solve the problem, then you are mistaken. Marketing — including for causes — needs a smart head to get the point across. Endless streams of tortured children do not do that – they get the channel changed.

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      • For some of us it’s way too much, I agree. Sadly there are people who have become so desensitized that it takes such images to shock them into doing something. For you and me it’s a no-win situation. I stick by my opinion that we shouldn’t all be forced to look.

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    • I have often thought it reminds me of the Holocaust with people trying desperately to find a safe haven. I think it is incredibly sad that countries are building walls, yet I know there are only so many resources available. I wish I had a magic wand to wipe away all hardships.

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    • I do see what you’re saying and you have an excellent point. However not all of us are in the same situation that we need to see pictures to actually do something about it, and I’m in the rather-not-thank-you-very-much category. And I resent the fact that Facebook forces me to look at not only the picture of Aylan Kurdi but all the others they have since banned from the site. They were far worse, if you haven’t seen them, and totally unnecessary.
      My point is, I already feel sick enough about the situation without the visuals. I do acknowledge that there are people out there who have pulled their heads out of their asses simply because of the photos. That in and of itself is a sad state of affairs.

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      • True, it is sad that folks need that catalyst, but in a world saturated by terrible images, the horrific still has power to galvanize the apathetic and uncaring (especially the politicians) and in this case it has worked.
        I would love to believe that, without the public outcry sparked by Aylan’s death, our bloody government would have done something anyway, but I’m afraid I’m too much of a pragmatist to think that’s the case.

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      • I have seen the other photos and I now think that a lot of them are the products of bandwagon jumping exercises by a cynical media (you’ll notice I didn’t feature any in my blog post on the subject) and hopefully the momentum gathered by that initial shock should be enough to prick the conscience of the world into action.

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  16. I agree with you, I know the story but do not want to see the pics. I remember years ago making the mistake of reading about poor Jamie Bulger. it haunted me for weeks and weeks, so God knows how awful it must have been for his poor family.

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  17. You are not alone in this. Namaste.
    Words have begun to fail me my dearest friend. I can only weep at it all. Turn my face to find courage and fire again to face it, again and again and again with the power to care… with intent to destroy and diminish such arrogance and shallowness, in its cold, hopelessness.
    Be well.

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  18. Sorry I meant two children.

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  19. It is so sad Linda. I agree there seems to a climate of shock horror. My heart goes out to man who while trying to do his best for his family lost his wife and too children.

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  20. Saw some things on liveleak last night that are going to haunt me for weeks. Don’t ever go there Linda!

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  21. I understand totally, what you mean Linda. I don’t have or view television by same reason, but:
    Unfortunately many people don’t get it, this very sad story, as I live very close to, without they are forced to see those terrible photos.
    Specially the governments need to feel it, so they feel strangled, before they do anything to help in those cases. These is about the Syrian Refugees, as just try to give their kids a chance to live a life without war.
    For many of us, it is enough to read about this very sad case, but not for all…..

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  22. I wouldn’t want pictures of my dead loved ones on the news. On the other hand, it is news, and it graphically tells a harsh tale of what’s happening over there, raising awareness to a new level. I wonder what level our awareness of the holocaust would be if it weren’t for all the graphic photos of concentration camps. So in my view, there’s a necessary evil to these pictures.

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    • I can understand war and killing without seeing it. I understand that walking out in front of a speeding car will send me flying without picturing someone else doing it. I don’t need to see pictures of bodies for any reason whatsoever to know without a doubt that they died. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

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  23. Thank you for posting this! Shock jock photojournalists do this stuff for all the wrong reasons.

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  24. Amen. I don’t know what you’re referring to as I haven’t been online much today and don’t want to know, but I wish there was a limit to what was shown. If only we could filter the news that pops up somewhat beyond just blocking everyone. News like that is so triggering.

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  25. I’m so with you on this one Linda. I don’t watch the news for just this reason. It isn’t really about the news. It’s about the shock factor and getting people to watch. Upsetting images won’t change anything though. It just upsets me, so no need to feel bad. At least in my opinion.

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  26. The problem is that this has been going on for decades and nothing has been done about it. The chances of stopping war and poverty is zero, so the obvious answer is for the receiving countries to better patrol international waters to prevent these deaths. They are not because it is too expensive. And so people continue to die sometimes a few at a time and sometimes hundreds at once. The images are sickening and yet are just a tiny tip of the iceberg – what the officials see daily. People are dying because the richer countries do not want to spend the money to stop it. That’s the point of the pictures: to sicken the voters enough that the politicians start to take this problem seriously instead of saying it is someone else’s problem.

    The root of the problem is Democracy. Democracy focuses on the needs of the individual – it reinforces the “me” generation, if it’s not good for me then I’m not interested. This attitude. of course, infiltrates the leadership – what is not good for the country is not good. This means that when humans not under the citizenship or on the lands of a country are in trouble, they cannot expect help. This goes in direct contrast to the religious beliefs of the majority of the population – help your fellow humans – do unto others as you would have others do unto you. A democracy treats those outside its borders the opposite of the golden rule. Hence the pictures – a cry from those who believe that we are all responsible to each other for us to pay attention.

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    • Yes, it’s important that we acknowledge what’s going on and fight for whichever government that is going to do something about it. But pictures of kids? I will never believe that is right. What’s next, the fight against child porn with pictures? No. Just no.

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      • That is rare. And the article that I read made it clear that they publisher had seen many pictures like this before and had refused to print them as being sensational. The problem has now grown so big (and you have to admit there have been more and more deaths) that those same pictures are now representative of the issues and no longer sensational as they are more often occurring. This decision to finally print the photos was made based on the frequency of occurrence. When dead children wash up on beaches regularly – refusal to print the pictures is doing a disservice to the public.

        You know this world gets more and more violent everyday and we turn our backs when the first responders see more horrors every day. Have you ever read “Don of all trades” ? http://donofalltrades.com/2015/09/03/its-a-tuesday-night/ It is a blog written by a St. Louis city cop – Don – about his day. You should take a look at it – it will scare you. But that is the reality – we cannot hide from it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The thing is I CAN read about it. It’s the images I can’t stand. If I wanted to see blood I’d have become a nurse. It’s not that I don’t care enough not to be a nurse… you see what I mean? Not all of us have it in us to be a first responder. So no, I don’t see showing me pictures as being a service to me. I’ll never believe it’s necessary.
          I do know Don, by the way. Great guy. Cute kids.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Pictures of shooting of innocent children and the footage of their horror (school cameras) has not done ONE THING to dissuade the minds of those that want to have their guns at all costs. I think social media is great at getting the word out — but want it without the slam of the visuals. I just click it gone. And frankly, the so-called news outlets don’t give a damn about the children — they care about the ratings, and the more sensational the images the better.

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            • I know it’s been like that in the U.S. for years – sensationalism above all else. But at least on the news they tell you that what you’re going to see is disturbing before you see it. No such luxury on social media.

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  27. I think that despite the intentions of the people who are circulating this picture, it may have the reverse effect of causing some people to shut-down and succumb to feelings of hopelessness.

    I’ve seen the picture because it popped up on my screen, as it did yours.

    Some people compare it to a photo of a Vietnamese Child, naked and screaming from from the pain of Napalm…but there is a huge difference between that photo and this one. The Vietnamese child survived into adulthood. The other one is gone, period.

    I don’t quite know how it serves any purpose for a global network of strangers to stare at his body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really does leave me with a sense of hopelessness. Not only for the people the situation itself affects, but for the masses who get some kind of sick fascination from it. Ugh. Excellent points, Robert.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Right…and the last thing we need in a world in which the ruling elite thrive on hopelessness and feelings of powerlessness are images that move us to apathy; especially ones that are so sad. I feel terrible about the conditions that caused that child to drown, and I feel worse for the people who will go numb in response to the photo.

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        • Precisely – what we can’t stand but have to see we desensitize ourselves to. Which leads again to the question, what’s next?

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          • I think some people are having a different response….I think each of us sees something subjective in a photo…

            …And what you see may not be in the photo for another person.

            Dies this this mean that your point of view is wrong? No.

            I can’t bear to look at the picture; but my history makes me especially sensitive to any abuse of a child….

            …And institutional abuse that results in the death of a baby horrifies me…

            …But I note that some people are only now waking up to the human dimension of the political decisions we let our leaders make in our name.

            I don’t need the death of a child to see the connection between our political decisions and human suffering.

            But some people do need that…

            …Therefore I don’t look at the photo and would never think of sharing it….

            …I also take no action that would remove the photo from circulation.

            I hope that makes sense…:)

            Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m with you. I’ve learned that as a writer, once those images get lodged in my memory they keep surfacing when I’m trying to write. It’s like I lose a little bit of imagination with each one. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I saw the one with the little toddler. It is heartbreaking. I did not see beached babies. That would be awful. I think we need to know that people are in dire need. Unfortunately, sometimes the world seems to need a kick in the ass before they react. Anything with kids really gets to me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Beached babies??? I don’t even want to know. 😦

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  31. I totally agree! I care a great deal about the suffering in the world
    but that does not mean I want to experience graphic images of tragedies 24/7.

    Liked by 1 person

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