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You’ve all seen them, or at least passed by them in your social news feed. Those horrific videos of baby seals being beaten or dogs dying of starvation or cows being electrocuted. They’re disgusting and painful to watch. A lot of animal right activists think that these are the best way to attract attention to their cause and get people to change their ways. I think they’re going about it all wrong.
It may be true that negativity sells and our current society is buying into it. It may also be true that tragic things can pull at our heart strings and make us take action. However, showing people violence and ugliness doesn’t always spur people into action. As a matter of fact, it can often have quite the opposite reaction.
Graphic depictions of horrific acts is not something most people want to see. They may watch something out of curiosity, but once they know what they’re looking at, they’ll go elsewhere. Not many people are going to watch every animal cruelty video that they come across. Knowing the potential contents of a video will cause most people to pass by. They don’t want to be disgusted and simultaneously have their hearts ripped out. It sucks, and people don’t like it.
So if you’re constantly posting horrific videos of animal cruelty eventually most people are going to stop watching them. Not only that, any mention of animal cruelty is going to make them want to go elsewhere. They’ll associate it with that brutal imagery. So you cease to raise awareness. Instead, you push people further from what it is you want.
Posting horrible animal videos and images doesn’t make most people go rushing to become vegans, picket factory farms or donate to animal rescue. It makes them pass you by in the feeds, and makes them have a negative association with the cause. It’s the same as people who post images of dead fetuses in an attempt to get people to stop abortion. It doesn’t work. More likely than not, you’ll get blocked before you get any money or awareness to your cause.
If people were smart, they’d stop spreading these disturbing images and videos. We all know that these things are happening. The better thing to do would be to provide links to sites where people can learn how to stop what it is you’re against. Tell them how to donate, what they can do in their personal lives to help, and give them positive stories, images and videos to share. By giving people something that makes them feel good, you increase the chances that they’ll do the right thing for the cause.
Guilt, shame and disgust may be enough to sway some people and make them change, but for most, those feelings are only going to make them turn a blind eye to your cause. They don’t want to feel bad about themselves. If you give them ways to help, easy ways to change, and positive information to share, they’re more likely to help. I wish people would get that into their heads. Extreme depictions are hurting your cause more than they’re helping. Try coming at things from a different angle and you may well have far greater success.