Drama sells. People feed off scandal and the misfortune of others when scrolling through social media and news outlets. We have witnessed the spin and distortions of true stories that play out in public to the point where it’s hard to be sure of what is real and what is manufactured.
At some point, we become disconnected and dissociated with the people in the stories we read and their trauma becomes our entertainment. Mere flashes in our morning routine as we sip our coffee and get ready for work. But these stories live on as a catalog for trauma exploitation.
Consider the recent events at the Oscars. We witnessed what happened live on a global platform. If you weren’t in attendance it was easy enough to find as it is now plastered all over the news, social media, talk shows, etc. It was shocking and painful to watch, and still, people use this moment to create memes and to laugh at the pain of others. Judgment is running rampant, condemning people for their actions, and adding fuel to an already incendiary topic. Unfortunately, it has become normal to exploit the trauma of another person. Some would argue that public figures should expect, and accept, the commentary about what happens in their daily lives. Even though this was a very public event and the incident was broadcast to millions of people, what each of us chooses to do with it says more about who we are than it does about the people involved.
It is pointless to say we should keep our comments to ourselves and not talk about it. It’s out there. It happened. We saw it and still have access to the incident. What I can suggest is that this is a moment to pause for reflection and consider how we talk about this painful event. Remove the celebrity aspect of all of it for a moment. Consider the people involved as actual people and think about how this moment carried so much more weight and meaning than we understand. Our conversations can come from a more compassionate place where we refrain from considering the actions as a stand-alone factor, and we examine the underlying systemic nature of what led up to this event. Traumatic events such as this have root causes that are deeper than our expressions of a quick rush to judgment.
We are not entitled to know their story, nor are we automatically deserving of their remorse—and yet we demand it.
This is the moment when we are presented with yet another opportunity for self-reflection. We are often willing to evaluate, condemn, criticize, and then demand a certain outcome as a result of the actions of others. Are we also willing to invest that much passion and energy into reflecting upon how what we do affects the people in our personal sphere of connection? Do we have the same level of outrage when we witness these events happening right in front of us? We may have developed a sense of entitlement and feel we can insert ourselves into the lives of others simply because they are celebrities. We don’t accept that they are deserving of privacy or compassion.
A growth point for us all is taking a step back and observing what happens when we witness traumatic events happening to the people we actually know. A step further would be to pay attention to what prevents us from speaking up instead of turning a blind eye to the daily atrocities happening right under our noses.
If we choose to be on a spiritual path there is a huge body of work that informs our journey on this topic.
Our journey may need course correction when we find ourselves consumed by the external drama of someone else’s trauma.