Monday, August 13, 2007

Past Caring

Maybe it's because I've been having a rough few days (bad hay fever symptoms, Spurs losing on the opening day of the new season, Google doing its best to sabotage my web traffic by refusing to index my main archive index page), but I find myself suffering from compassion fatigue. It really doesn't matter how heart-rending the story the media tries to push at me, I find that I'm just past caring. Really. I'm too tired, too cynical and just really can't be arsed. The bastards have tried to toy with my emotions too many times, and right now, I'm not in the mood. I find myself simply shrugging 'So what' in response to stories of yet more teenagers being shot in the street. After years of demonising young people, whipping up public fears of violent crime and telling us that the streets are awash with guns, why are the media apparently so surprised by such occurrences?

Then there's the ongoing saga of the British child apparently abducted in Portugal. I'm afraid I'm left unmoved. I agree that it's a tragedy, that it must be terrible for her family. But the fact is that there's nothing I can do about it. Not that it stops the media from continuing to shove the story in my face and try to manipulate my emotional response to it. There always seems to be this subtext in such reporting saying 'if you don't feel devastated by this, then you are a heartless bastard'. People seem scared to actually come out and say 'look, I know this is really sad, but let's be realistic - it's not my child involved, there's nothing i can do personally. Why don't we just let the family and the authorities get on with it?' - which is what a lot of us are thinking. It comes back to something I've banged on about before - our modern obsession with making the private public. These things are essentially private tragedies - let's try and keep it that way. OK, I know that cases such as child abductions need a degree of publicity to try and resolve them, but let's try and keep it within reason. I'm tired of seeing posters of this missing child in every other shop I visit - we're in the UK and she disappeared in Portugal, so putting the posters up here really isn't going to help much, is it? Of course, it will show the world how compassionate you are...

So there you go - high Summer and I'm emotionally exhausted. There have been too many things I've been asked to care about these past few months - missing children, teenage gun crime, flooding, foot and mouth - and my capacity for caring has worn thin. Like I said, I'm past caring. In fact, I'm not just past it, it is rapidly disappearing in my rear view mirror as I speed away. Maybe I'll feel better when I've had a few weeks off work (starting at the end of this week). Just so long as the media don't make any more demands on my sympathies, of course.



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