We all have that friend that’s constantly posting things we’d rather not see. The graphic photos of animal cruelty. The pleas to sign yet another petition to stop this or that atrocious act. Or the cross-posting of companion animals needing a home. Except they couldn’t just post a cute photo of a sweet dog or cat. Oh no! They have to tell you about the heartless bastard that dumped ‘em at the high-kill shelter, or about how the baby was found in a horrific state.
Maybe once or twice you can take it. But repeated exposure makes you feel physically sick. Or perhaps you find yourself saying, “So what? I can’t do anything about it anyway.”
Well guess what?
Research has shown that what that so-called friend is doing is exposing you to secondary trauma. The regular doses of abuses of others affects us, not because we’re Ice Queens, but because we do care so much.
There’s been a great deal of research in the past 20 years about secondary trauma exposure and its effects. Enough exposure to the traumas of others can lead to a myriad of health problems, including PTSD.
WHAT? You mean I can suffer from trauma exposure through social media?
In a word, yes.
So back to that friend with the never-ending tales of abuse. Remember how, while you felt guilty about doing so, you quietly unfollowed them?
Well, bully for you! Because the best way to recover from exposure to secondary trauma is to lessen your exposure to secondary trauma.
As for that friend, I can say that he or she needs help too. In my case, I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself in constantly exposing myself to animal cruelty after a day at work exposed to human cruelty, and I certainly didn’t realize what I was doing to you.
So tell that friend with love that what they’re doing to themselves and to others isn’t healthy. Then send them on their way with a prayer.