This one is sure to generate hate mail. Think of me what you will. Call me on my privilege if it makes you feel better or more superior. For the record I'm a white woman whose mostly straight and I work hard for what I have and I blame no one for the things I don't have. And there's not a day that goes by that I'm not aware of and grateful for every damn thing I do have.
Compassion or empathy fatigue is a real thing and it's not just reserved for those who work in first-responder fields like paramedics, fire-fighters, doctors and shrinks. Everyone and anyone can get it. There's an adequate definition of it here thanks to wikipedia. In short, for those too lazy to click the link, means that eventually, after being bombarded with enough horror, trauma (man-made or otherwise), natural disasters, appeals for donations and petitions you will eventually stop giving a shit.
After enough changes to language to accommodate every kind individual out there, after enough political scandals and economic catastrophes and typhoons and earthquakes and social movements a person just stops caring. It becomes too much to deal with, they reach a saturation point.
And it's not to say that the movements and petitions aren't worth a person's time. Quite often a lot of good is accomplished through petitions and donations (when people look at where their money goes before forking it over). When something comes along (and something always comes along, every single day in my email inbox) that someone is truly outraged by a petition is started. It comes with a preamble aimed to get the potential petitioner's blood boiling so that they'll sign it and if they're blood boils long enough, they'll donate money to the cause.
Just about every petition I've bothered to sign online has eventually followed up, asking me to lend them money to accompany my slacktivist click of a button. And I'm not joking. I get at least one email per day from a place like Avaaz or Change.org or something similar, sometimes I get up to four separate requests from different groups asking me to sign four different petitions in one day! Every. Single. Day.
Is it any wonder that I've reached the maximum number of shits to give?
A thought occurs. Just because I didn't sign the petition or even bother to let the preamble get my blood boiling, doesn't mean that I don't care about the rights of gays, or the rights of women in foreign countries, or the environment. I care about all these things. I don't need to be enlightened or have my mind changed. I forward those movements by being honest and living my life as if the very things we seek to change are completely normal things that should and in places already exist. For example, I live my daily life accepting that all humans are worthy of respect and that littering is too easily prevented to be a problem.
These two examples are just the most recent things to get dragged up onto my pinnacle of empathy fatigue.
Firstly that all human beings are worth of basic respect and dignity. I don't care how you identify yourself. I don't care for the labels that are constantly being invented and applied for every conceivable gender identity and sexual orientation that exists. I don't care to affix them on others, and I don't care to have them affixed on me. A person is a person is a person and we're all worthy of respect and dignity and a fair chance. Period. End of discussion. I've reached my apex here in that just about every form of discrimination that can be identified has a name and a social agenda. I disagree with the idea of demonizing people who are trying to make a difference in the gay community because they're not "doing it right enough" or because they're a human being and sometimes a dick to other people with their opinions. Part of the problem may be that this constant berating of all the ways that people are being discriminated against, or abused in a variety of ways, is something I already know and in most cases there's nothing I can do about it aside from what I'm already doing. I'm not the target audience for this kind of campaign and yet I find it being thrust at me time and time again. There are people who could benefit from knowing that there's a huge spectrum of orientation, and these people are the least likely to be the ones to seek out this information.
I see the problem this way: I'm already an atheist and I'm confident and happy about it. I don't need another confident atheist trying to keep convincing me to some how be more of an atheist and talking smack about other athiests who maybe aren't trying hard enough because they still have friends who are Christian or Muslim or Jewish. Perhaps I just dream about a utopia where people are just fucking nice to each other and no one needs to make anyone else feel guilty for the things they say, the beliefs they hold or the opinions they have the nerve to state. And we can still tell jokes and laugh at ourselves once in a while. Because life is hilarious if you look at it closely enough.
Secondly, the environment. Global warning in particular. Holy shit am I tired of hearing about it and being made to feel guilty about my existence's impact on the world. Okay, I'm a vegetarian, I drive a small car, I recycle, I don't litter, I don't let my bathroom faucet run while I brush my teeth, I don't drive my car from one end of a big box parking lot to the other to avoid walking across the damn enormous things and I do this to save gas and/or money. Not the environment. Yes. You read that right.
This is not to say that it's not worth while. I don't want to rain on the parade of those who say that every little bit counts. I don't want to claim that it makes no difference. I don't want to say that Global Warming is a sham. I don't want to tell you that recycling is a waste of time. Penn & Teller have already covered that. I'm not saying that Global Warming isn't a real thing, I just question whether or not it's entirely humanity's fault. This of course doesn't dismiss all the other ways that humans are fucking up the planet, but I'm not convinced that CO2 generated by humans and our gadgets is the major cause.
There's just as much evidence out there to show that the planet is warming because of the sun as there is evidence to say it comes from cars or cow farts. Though knowing that the sun is in one of it's most active periods does lend a lot to the sun-warming-the-earth theory. The planet is getting warmer, that's a fact I won't deny, but I am willing to think that it's not entirely our fault, I don't have the built in human sense of guilt about my existence that a lot of people (some of them religious) are raised with. I prefer sound, level headed research to fear-mongering and guilt tripping. Again, I think I'm just not the target audience, I already know better, Dear Media, stop badgering me.
I drive a small efficient car because I know that gasoline is a finite resource and I don't like spending any more of my hard earned dollars on it than I have to, because there are much more interesting things to spend it on. I turn the water off when I brush, and lights out when I'm not using them because I have to pay for that. I'm a responsible adult who lives on her own. Know what else is a finite resource? My income.