Sick and tired: compassion fatigue

You are a good person. And that’s a good thing, no?

Well, if you look at Facebook (who doesn’t?), you will find hundreds of sponsored adverts on behalf of widows, orphans, disaster victims, victims of oppression, victims of illness, those with disabilities, abandoned animals, disappearing wildlife….

If you’re a good person you might even contribute to one, or two. Perhaps the DEC (especially after a horrible earthquake, or a tsunami).

But here’s the snag. In our digital age, bots and algorithms will latch onto you as someone likely to care. In human terms, “a soft touch”. So you find other pleas landing in your inbox asking for more money. If you have/haven’t ticked/not ticked the correct boxes when you first donated, you will find physical letters beginning to drop through your letterbox.

This is all on top of advertising campaigns that you might see on the side of buses or on TV, or the Chuggers who accost you in the street, or the little old ladies collecting outside of the Post Office.

There is evidence that this level of knowledge of the ills and evils in the world, the wider world, is seriously bad for any one individual’s health. There is also evidence that the human psyche developed in accordance with knowing and caring for a community that is roughly the size of a village. That’s the amount of badness that we can cope with and care for healthily.

So next time you are asked for money, and you think ‘Oh no, not again’, don’t feel guilty. If you really are a good person, you will have chosen your charities, your causes, and you will support them. And that’s fine. That’s enough.

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