Words by Joshua Cialis, picture by PBS News
24 hour Rolling News + Disaster = Suffering Porn
We live in an age of 24 hour rolling news, where the news of the day is beamed straight to our televisions 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks of the year. This, along with the world’s continual trend for disasters is leading to what I like to call suffering porn. Humans – or at least Western humans – seem to want that continual option to view suffering.
We’ve seen this suffering porn an awful lot recently, with the continual terrorist attacks across the world, the ongoing war in Syria, the refugee crisis, Storm Irma, and recent earthquake in Mexico. We seem to have forgotten that the only suffering we used to see was famine in Africa. We are so used to seeing suffering that its surprising that we live in such a sanitised society or maybe it is just so that we are voyeurs in such a sense of suffering because we live in such a sanitised society.
Yet it seems that this constant suffering porn has use, its emotive nature allows to see that people need our help. Let us remember the affair of little Alan [Shenu] Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who was photographed dead on the beach in Turkey. It is only after this horrifying picture emerged that anyone – in the West – really did anything about helping the ‘refugee crisis’. It seems that in our age of digital news, a description is not enough for a response anymore, we need to see the suffering before we believe it’s happening. And although many of us will not venture out to see the suffering or experience it we act as voyeurs looking into a world that isn’t our own from the safety of our own lounges safe in the knowledge that we are not suffering but happy to know that someone in the world needs our help.