Compassion fatigue

Call me a jerk, or call me insensitive, but I hate when people post manipulative statuses on Facebook that purposely try to evoke some type of emotional reaction from other people.

Facebook does give people the outlet to share news, both good and bad. It’s always nice to hear that someone got a new job, or they started a new relationship, or that their older sister just had a baby. Congratulations. I probably won’t physically write “congratulations,” but I at least think it.

However, it gets old fast.

When people excessively post news and updates about the happenings in their life, I find myself rolling my eyes at what they have to say, and actually saying the words “shut up already,” out loud.

I have Facebook friends who constantly post about how they are finally going to the gym and are now losing a bunch of weight that they’ve been wanting to take off for years.

Cool, I guess? Is that what I am supposed to say? Clearly these people are looking for positive reinforcement, why else post it? However, just posting about this reminds me that you were fat to begin with, hence needing to go the gym.

If you’re accomplishing something, then one post about it is perfectly rational and even socially acceptable behavior. You’re going to get your comments , your well wishes and your “likes,” and you can pat yourself on the back and revel in your accomplishment. But then that’s it. You don’t get to do it again for the same accomplishment.

It’s pretty rare that Facebook statuses evoke any kind of reaction from me. Whether they’re meant to make me excited, or impressed, or even sympathetic, it’s pretty much gotten to the point where I am desensitized to anything, given the amount of Facebook statuses I have seen over the past five or six years.

Does this make me a dick? Maybe. I’m fairly certain that everybody thinks this to an extent, but probably wouldn’t admit it aloud, and definitely wouldn’t blog about it like I am doing now. It also makes me seem very cold-hearted and like I lack any human emotion.

But then, Wikipedia came to the rescue. I was wondering if there was an actual name for this phenomena, so I began searching to see. After a surprisingly short amount of time, I discovered the term “compassion fatigue.” Wikipedia defines it as such:

“a condition characterised by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among trauma victims and individuals that work directly with trauma victims. Journalism analysts argue that the media has caused widespread compassion fatigue in society by saturating newspapers and news shows with often decontextualized images and stories of tragedy and suffering. This has caused the public to become cynical, or become resistant to helping people who are suffering.”

They need to add an addendum to that definition, saying that the media AND FACEBOOK has caused widespread compassion fatigue in society. When you are habitually exposed to all types of “news” from your Facebook friends, they all start to blend together into one giant cesspool of “who gives a f%$@.”

Also, you have to love 20th century psychology. Just list a series of symptoms, and they’ll peg a name to it. Not that I necessarily disagree with trying to quantify and explain certain behaviors, but the widespread psychoanalysis really gives people an excuse to bitch and moan, like I am right now.

You’ll never see me actually criticize people for touting their good news, or expressing their sadness, because it’s only natural human behavior in our current digital age. Heck, I am guilty of it sometimes too, I won’t deny it. But I genuinely believe that it has caused a widespread affliction of compassion fatigue.

And it annoys me because I know that it will have a negative effect on my life. When my boss hands me a promotion, I won’t even crack a smile. When my wife gives birth to our first baby, I’ll yawn and say “whoopdedoo.”

Okay, so maybe I’ll never tire of my own accomplishments. Although, maybe by that time, Facebook will no longer exist, and we will no longer be exposed to the daily happenings of everybody’s lives.

Yup, I just laughed too. Hey, I guess I still do have some emotion left.

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One thought on “Compassion fatigue

  1. This article made my minute.

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