We have just seen one of the most disturbing and unspeakable brutality of a human being done to another human being this past week. Our own humanity is shaken for the depravity of the act committed by one person to another in the name of an ideology.
The question is how much graphic contents a person is allowed to see in the name of information. I will try to deal with this in the manner with which it affects a viewer based upon my own experience.
Although the news is abuzz already with what is happening in the Middle East and in Europe, no one can ever prepare a person for a display of a barbaric act before his very eye. An act that is calculated, deliberate and appalling which is meant to send a strongest message to those who can see it.
The first time I saw the photo of the person holding James Foley, I immediately felt the danger. My body felt cold and I was horrified with what I saw. I was hoping that the photo was just a warning of some sort, and the act has not taken place already–and Foley is safe.
Although prior to seeing the photo, I have already read articles and news that he was already killed in the most graphic fashion, and that the video or photo was genuine. I still cling to the hope that it is not so. I have to admit I looked for some sort of evidence and judge for myself, if it was actually true.
I only found photos and I was relieved that, that was the only one I saw.
The photo was strong enough for me to be convinced having already read the story behind it, and so I did not search anymore for the video. In addition, the different websites were fast enough to take it down, so that more people will be saved from the horror they are about to see.
Any exposure to graphic contents will always affect any person with revulsion for the first hour and so. Now the shock will last depending on how a person will digest it. If a person has, someone to discuss and share the pain with, the shock will slowly subside and the numbing process will begin.
Every time the person see the picture, he will get used to it and the picture will just be a reminder that that act of violence took place.
Should the media save the public from these shocking images? As I have said, a still photo with truthful contents is enough for me to be informed of what happened; I do not need to see the real action. I am sure that those who have seen the video would always be haunted with those images. I am relieved that I did not get to witness that.
Last year, I made a mistake of watching a video of people being beaten with sticks, and burned alive in public in Africa. I do not know how I was able to watch it for several minutes, until I could not take it anymore. It has made me sad, jumpy and to this day, I have never forgotten those images.
Sometimes the headlines are so intriguing; it pulls us into watching its content. The public can take it upon themselves to choose which ones to watch in the internet.
However, though it was the reality in some countries, some websites are uploading it in its entirety for shock value and viewership — without regard for the sensitivity of their audience. The internet is accessible to all ages and groups that knows how to use it, and is therefore open for different interpretation.
On the other hand, we also do not like the news to be watered-down just so to protect the public from these disturbing images. The point is — there should always be a balance reporting, enough for people to conclude that something is terribly wrong.
We do not like to undermine the efforts of the journalists around the world who are risking their lives to bring to us the most compelling happenings around the world, so that we are not feeling falsely secured when the truth is we are not.
They are not there to scare us, but to inform us of what the world is facing right now. Nevertheless, sometimes they also cross their boundaries. If the media cannot protect us from the effects of these type of reporting – we should learn to choose which is news, and which is for gaining traffic.
The news should inform and educate us, and inspire us to take positive actions for the benefit of every human being in the world. It should not be used for commercial purposes.