One of the big questions I've been sitting with is: who benefits when we share horrific news out of Israel and Gaza? When does that serve a greater purpose, and when does it just harden us? I know we share links with the best intentions -- bearing witness, and uplifting voices that need to be heard. (I'm including myself in this!) I'm just... not sure we're bridging the gaps between echo chambers.
There's a "gotcha" feeling to so many interactions on social media right now. As though anger were a virus, and whoever makes their fury most contagious, wins. Once you read this, you'll hate them as much as I do. I notice what happens in me when I read stories of horror and trauma. The turbulence of emotion, the sickened feeling of disbelief. And I wonder: are these feelings actually helping anyone?
I worry that reading these kinds of articles makes it harder to see people on the other side (or those who sympathize with them) as human beings. It harms our capacity for empathy. That's part of why I make a point of seeking out the voices of both Palestinians and Israelis. (And wow is that painful. I know the distant pain of reading stories doesn't hold a candle to actual trauma. It still hurts.)
And wow, it sure seems as though a lot of people want to discount any stories of suffering that come from "the other side." I hear people saying, that's just propaganda, you can't trust anything they say. Or sometimes, it's their own fault, look who they voted into power. And sure, there's propaganda fueling the war of public opinion. But that doesn't invalidate the horrors that are also real and true.
If the subtext when we share news or personal stories from Israel or Gaza or the West Bank is, just read this and you'll see how barbaric Those People are -- I don't think it helps. My fear is that the more we marinate in our feelings of righteous indignation and justifiable fury, the more the world's rage and polarization benefit extremists who are perfectly happy to ignore their enemy's humanity.
I don't know how to end this post. It's taken me all week to write 400 words. I want to be a source of light rather than heat. The internet does not need more kindling for the world's angry flames.