I have an awful habit of pawing through my Facebook newsfeed before I go to sleep and I was aimlessly doing just that when I came across one of the most horrific photos I have ever seen. Without going into too much detail and giving everyone else the nightmares that I had that night, one of my contacts had shared a photo of a bloody, mutilated animal with the perpetrators standing over it. It was uncensored and I couldn’t sleep for the next two hours.

When I finally did fall asleep, I had the kind of surreal dreams which would have made Salvador Dali’s art look like the work of a precocious kindergarten pupil. It’s been a few days now and I still can’t push it completely out of my mind. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

Around a year ago I was writing an article and Facebook was just open in the background when all of a sudden a video started playing. One of my friends had thought it a good idea to share a terrorist beheading and all of a sudden I was a horrified bystander witnessing the death of another human being with very little say in the matter. I scrambled hopelessly to stop it, to close the window, to shut the computer, to basically erase the entire experience, but it was too late. I couldn’t unsee what I had seen. Suffice to say, I spent weeks replaying the few seconds I had seen in my mind and sleep did not come easily.

Maybe we need to start filtering what we put out there a lot more instead of just pressing the share button

Both these friends are not cruel people. In both cases, all they wanted to do was raise awareness, engage in discussion and denounce the actions of the people involved. Yet despite me knowing this, I can’t help but be angry that they thought it was okay to share these things with a wide audience. When American journalist James Foley was publically beheaded and the video began to make the rounds, his sister, Kelly had made a very public message beseeching the public to respect her family’s privacy and not watch and share the video. She maintained that this is not how life should be.

I did not choose to see these things of my own volition, I did not go around looking for them but since many treat social media like their own backyard, I have now been forced to participate. I have become part of the circle and I too have been terrorised.

I can’t do anything to help these people yet watch slack-jawed and deplore how cruel the human race can be. If anything, all these things do is make me feel like the world is a dark abyss. I’m not saying that if you see something heartwrenching you shouldn’t share it, but maybe we need to start filtering what we put out there a lot more instead of just pressing the share button willy nilly without a care for how graphic something is and the effect it can have on others. And above all, maybe someone needs to tell people once and for all that it is possible to be outraged and horrified about things and not tell your 754 friends 20 times a day.


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