My thoughts on abuse pics on Social Media

Let’s be honest. We’ve all had our fingers hover over that ‘share’ button when we see a ‘Save the Rhino’ campaign or a ‘Don’t litter in the sea, birds 1000’s of miles away are dying’ video or a pic of bleeding and/or dying and/or starving and/or abused children and/or animals on Facebook.

Some of us don’t hesitate to share, some don’t care and others, like me, are vociferous in our opinion that it achieves nothing. Absolutely. Nothing.

You either care about animals and children or you don’t. You are either other one of those people polluting the sea, shooting rhinos or harming animals and children or not. Chances are that the people in your FB stream lean whichever way you do, which means that, by posting those horrible pics, you are just wasting bandwidth and precious emotional energy. Or you enjoy harming animals and children. In which case we probably aren’t friends.

Yes. I know I’m the first one to name and shame and post pics of people that don’t strap their kids in when they drive as this is very close to my heart. You know what? I secretly hope that someone knows someone that I posted a pic of that will klap that person upside the head and call them a douche. And hopefully next time that person will think twice before they they let their child bounce around their car.

I enjoy FB because it gives me a chance to watch funny cat videos and giggle at other funny stuff my friends post. I escape there (and on twitter) and shoot the breeze with friends, occasionally use it to air an opinion and to tell people when a child has broken an arm. (Mignon, Friday night, post to follow).

Does this make me shallow? Possibly.

The difference between twitter and Facebook is that when you post a pic on FB it is RIGHT THERE in your face, not a thumbnail you have to click on. This means that if you come across something that’s not necessarily PG or suitable for your kids and they happen to be leaning over your shoulder in bed on a Saturday morning, watching funny cat videos on FB with you, they are exposed. They ask questions. They are confused as to why that doggy doesn’t have paws and who would want to hurt that doggy Mommy? They see that pic of the emaciated child in Ethiopia you so desperately would love to rescue if you could.

You could argue that you need to see the horrible things people are doing so it will galvanize people into action, but really, will it? And why should I unwillingly and my children unwittingly be exposed to it? Why would we not rather reinforce positive behaviour than repeatedly underline the negative?

Many of my friends have teenagers. Their teenagers all have FB accounts and are inevitably friends with their parents and friends of their parents. They are thus also exposed to gratuitous energy sucking negativity or pics that their parents were tagged in. I’m not sure which is worse.

My point is this: I’m responsible for what I and my kids see on Facebook and I choose to let it be funny and positive for the biggest part. There’s enough collective angst in the world. Yes, I definitely want to know if you aren’t well or someone you care about died or if you are having a bad day. It’s within my realm of control to care about you.

I have absolutely no control over children and animals being harmed except if I actually see it happen.

I choose to show our children the beautiful things in life so that they can draw from images of beauty, not pain. They’ll have plenty of that to deal with soon enough.

I choose to fill their emotional wells with love and music and beauty and the occasional shouty bits in between.

I choose to teach our children respect for each other and our animals and the earth.

Surely that’s a better way than to be bombarded with terrible images that were only put out there for shock value?

What do you think?

Ps. This post isn’t aimed at a single person. It is a culmination of my feelings over a long period of time and I simply felt it was time to share my thoughts.