In an especially touching episode of Ask Amy, Amy Poehler answered a question from a teenager on how to deal with the graphic images and videos we often see on the Internet — and on that same note, how to send a better, more positive message into the world. In a week when we’ve seen graphic images of the Boston Marathon bombing victims and a day when we’re seeing even more violence coming out of Boston, this question seemed especially apt. How do we stay in the loop without exploiting the situation. How do we stay on top of the news without crossing the line into tragedy rubberneckers. It’s something I’ve personally struggled with all week.
While Amy usually doles out amazing advice that comes straight her heart, she seemed to struggle with the right answer this week. Like everyone else, I’m guessing she’s watched the news coming out of Boston and like everyone else she’s struggling with what she’s seeing. I know that when I searched for new information this week, I came across so many sites that posted bloody photos without contributing anything new to the story. So many publications that seemed more interested in getting the clicks, rather than getting the story right. Or getting any story at all. Sometimes photos speak a thousand words and they’re all that’s needed to illustrate a story. But other times, they don’t. Other times they’re simply exploiting a tragic situation for some vague notion of journalism. I would be lying to you if I said I left this week feeling proud of the Internet and the work we’ve collectively done.
And that’s why Amy’s words meant so much to me today. That’s why I’m going to try to take her advice. Because as much as she seems unsure of what to say today, I think she said exactly the right thing.
“I wonder if we could soften our hearts and minds and our eyes, I wonder if we could give our eyes a break. Maybe try to see things in a different way, maybe see things by reading about them or talking about them or listening, I don’t know, I kinda feel like my eyes need a break, don’t you. And if you do, then I guess my encouragement to you is to and to myself would be to take it. It’s okay to not be looking at what everyone else is looking at all the time, to know what you’re ready to see and not see, and to be okay with letting some things rest in peace.”
You can watch the whole Ask Amy episode here. While her advice generally seems targeted toward high school students, I think today’s episode is relevant to all of us.