28 June 2007

Shock Value

Originally posted 2/21/07

A friend of mine recently sent me an email with graphic pictures of animals being abused. I do believe my friend had the best of intentions when forwarding. The bottom of the email basically said that if the reader cares anything about animals, they will forward it on to everyone they know, and if they don't forward it, they don't care about animals. This bothered me. First of all, spreading horrific pictures across the internet isn't going to change what is happening to these animals. The only thing that can change that is writing to your lawmakers, writing to the companies that perpetrate some atrocities, refusing to buy products made by those companies, and joining animal rights groups that take action. Spreading pictures is pointless.

Perhaps the original author of the email intended to get people angry enough to do the things I mentioned above. I think he went about it the wrong way. Rather than sending the pictures themselves, it would have been more appropriate to post a link or twenty to activist websites. Instead, my children were looking at my screen when I clicked on the email and they got a glimpse of the pictures before I could minimize it. My 7yo daughter is extremely sensitive to such things. For a while she truly believed that she was half dog. Fortunately, she wasn't the child who was with me when I opened it. But she could have been. She would have had nightmares for a long time.

Therefore I refuse to forward the message on to others. While I have no problems with the basic message itself, I do have problems with its presentation. I am all for animal rights. I am not an activist for them (I am an activist for children's health), but just because I don't succumb to the shock value of those pictures does not make me heartless. I would ask everyone to think carefully before forwarding emails like the one I received. Perhaps the message is a good one, but is the presentation equally good?

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