It happened twice today: I was innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came upon photos of cats in such horrific shape that the images are still burned into my mind.
I’ve already unsubscribed to pages that post photos of cats on death row because I just can’t emotionally tolerate seeing post after post after post of CAPS-LOCK-LADEN MESSAGES WITH A ZILLION EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!!! about the animals that are going to die tomorrow unless a miracle happens.
I had to stop watching those "animal cop" shows because every single time I watched one, I ended up crying.
I make a policy of not following pages or visiting websites that post this kind of content regularly — not because I don’t care, but because I care too much. Photos of abused and abandoned animals are like a punch in the gut. Long after the image has left my computer screen, it’s still burned into my retinas and filling me with sick despair.
I know I’m not the only person who stops following websites and social media pages that constantly traffic in this kind of information. It’s agonizing to see those photos again and again. I know cats are starving in the streets. I know people fight dogs, with horrifically gruesome results. I know there are zoos where animals are abused and neglected. You don’t have to share the visuals with me; my mind fills in the details quite well, thank you very much!
If you’re one of the people who does this kind of stuff, you might say, "But ÔÇª but ÔÇª how are we going to show the unenlightened masses how awful this is if we don’t share the pictures?"
Let me tell you a little secret: When you insist on trying to get your message across with brutal images, you’re doing your cause more harm than good. Why? Most people aren’t galvanized into action when they see stuff like that. A hell of a lot more people go directly to "overwhelmed by despair" or "sickened with grief" than start thinking, "Behold! My consciousness has been raised! I must now do everything in my power to save starving lions in Egyptian zoos!"
And you know all those people who get overwhelmed by despair and sickened with grief? They’re unliking your Facebook page, unsubscribing from your Twitter feed, and no longer visiting your website. People who have turned away from your cause because you share nothing but the horror are people who aren’t going to help you. They may even abandon rescue altogether, because they start to think that rescue is all about mangled cats and death-row dogs, and they just can’t emotionally cope with that.
As one of my Facebook friends said, "I focus on doing what I can and encouraging others to do the same; folks who post photos that sap my strength with sorrow for things I can’t affect get hidden, no exceptions."
Seriously, people: You don’t have to share horrifying photos to be a good rescuer or to prove that you care.
You’ll get a hell of a lot more mileage from sharing success stories and encouraging people to help by taking a positive approach than you will by crushing mortals’ souls by sharing starved-to-death cats on your Facebook page, with a caption that in essence says, "While you’re pissing and moaning about your first-world problems, ANIMALS ARE DYING!!!! SEE?!? LOOK AT THIS DYING ANIMAL!!!! HOW CAN YOU SIT THERE AND DRINK YOUR COFFEE WHILE THIS ANIMAL IS DYING?!?!?!?!?!”
Please, Stop it.
JUST STOP IT!!!