An Empath’s Response to Dead Animals and Other Trending Images on Facebook
As an empath, I’ve been punched in the gut at least three times today. On Facebook. By friends and people I “like” who would never intentionally hurt me.
In the last few days, I’ve “unliked” several fan pages I’ve followed for a long time. I’ve left two favorite groups in the last week. And while “hiding” friends on Facebook–relatives, colleagues, and pals in my spiritual circle –has worked for most, I have had to unfriend people I enjoy because they persist in posting disturbing images, particularly violent images, not only to the news feed but also in comments on my own posts and in private messages.
By images, I mean full-color photos of dead animals or abused pets they want me to help save, but there are also the photos of battered women, bruised children, and even videos of unknown men trying to self-amputate, and I just don’t understand why they feel the need to share that with everyone.
I’d like to keep up with these friends’ lives, with the books they’ve authored, with their children’s struggle with a serious illness, with their efforts to save their local animal shelter, with how they’re handling the new city and the new job. I’d like to keep up with all the things that make social media important to me: not losing touch with the wide array of offline friends I rarely see anymore, now that we’re scattered across the planet.
But I cannot do it when they punch me in the gut every time I read their posts.
It’s not a literal punch, but it might as well be. That’s how it feels to an empath.
As an empath, a photo can put me …right…THERE, feeling the action or the abuse. Most moms know the feeling of seeing their toddler get a bump or a scrape, of feeling that spear of pain as if they’d taken the blow themselves. It’s similar with empathy, and the degree of empathy a person has varies.
I’m a high-level empath. I can feel emotion in emails before I open them. I can feel the emotion of a subject in a photo, and sometimes of the person taking the photo if the subject is no longer living. If you’re not an empath, that won’t make sense, but that’s just how it is I couldn’t bear to look at posted photos of Rhianna’s beaten face and I can’t bear the sight of a maimed pet meant to elicit my sympathy or anger. But whether or not you’re empathic, you may have noticed this trend of posting violent, gory, or otherwise upsetting photos.
Even if you’re not an empath, you’ve certainly seen the onslaught of shock-photos designed to move you out of your complacency and convince you to take action. Energetically, these photos reproduce the emotion, the negativity, the fear surrounding the moment of that photo. It’s not the cause or the call to action that goes viral but rather, it’s the negative, dark, heavy energy that is spread exponentially.
So for those faraway friends who just don’t get it when I tell them their violent images upset me and often keep me awake because I cannot unsee what I’ve seen, I get that it’s their Facebook profile and they can post whatever they want. They’re certainly free to do so, within Facebook guidelines, of course. But I’m also free–as much as I can be–to put up walls to keep that kind of death and pain imagery out. And sometimes, that means I cannot keep in touch, if keeping in touch physically hurts.