Category Archives: Ukraine

When tragedy becomes banal: Why news consumers experience crisis fatigue


As the war continues in Ukraine, a grandmother helps her grandchild light candles in a church in Lviv. AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, University of North Dakota

When Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea on Feb. 24, 2022, the images of war were conveyed to dismayed onlookers around the world. Far from the action, many of us became aware of the unprovoked aggression by reading online coverage or watching TV to see explosions and people running from danger and crowding into underground bunkers.

Half a year later, the violence continues. But for those who have not been directly affected by the events, this ongoing war and its casualties have been shifting to the periphery of many people’s attention.

This turning away makes sense.

Being attentive to realities like war is often painful, and people are not well-equipped to keep a sustained focus on ongoing or traumatic occurrences.

In addition, since the war in Ukraine began, many other events have arisen to occupy the world’s attention. These include droughts, wildfires, storms tied to global warming, mass shootings and the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

As the philosopher-psychologist William James asked, “Does not every sudden shock, appearance of a new object, or change in a sensation, create a real interruption?”

Ongoing tragic events, like the assault on Ukraine, can recede from people’s attention because many may feel overwhelmed, helpless or drawn to other urgent issues. This phenomenon is called “crisis fatigue.”

A firetruck drives near a burning wildfire.
The McKinney Fire burned more than 60,000 acres in Northern California this summer, killing four people and destroying 90 residences. Drought conditions enabled the fire to spread quickly. AP Photo/Noah Berger, CC BY

Roots of crisis fatigue

Malevolent actors and authoritarians like Putin are aware of public fatigue and use it to their advantage. “War fatigue is kicking in,” the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said. “Russia is playing on us getting tired. We must not fall into the trap.”

In a speech to marketing professionals in Cannes, France, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, asked them to keep the world focused on his country’s plight. “I’ll be honest with you – the end of this war and its circumstances depend on the world’s attention …,” he said. “Don’t let the world switch to something else!”

Unfortunately, many of us have already changed the channel. The tragic has become banal.

I became interested in the phenomenon of fatigue as a result of my scholarly research into moral attentiveness. This idea was articulated by the 20th-century French philosopher and social activist Simone Weil.

A 1936 photo of French philosopher Simone Weil dressed in military clothing holding a rifle.
Simone Weil, a French philosopher, joined the Durruti Column in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. Her scholarly work of social justice focused on the oppressed and marginalized in society. Apic/Hulton Archives via Getty Images, CC BY

According to Weil, moral attention is the capacity to open ourselves up fully – intellectually, emotionally and even physically – to the realities that we encounter. She described such attention as vigilance, a suspension of our ego-driven frameworks and personal desires in favor of a Buddhist-like emptiness of mind. This mindset receives, raw and unfiltered, whatever is presented without avoidance or projection.

Not surprisingly, Weil found attention to be inseparable from compassion, or “suffering with” the other. There is no avoiding pain and anguish when one attends to the afflicted; hence, she wrote that “thought flies from affliction as promptly and irresistibly as an animal flies from death.”

The sensitivity involved in attending to crises can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, attention can put people in touch with the unvarnished lives of others so the afflicted are truly seen and heard. On the other, such openness can overwhelm many of us through vicarious trauma, as psychologists Lisa McCann and Laurie Pearlman have noted.

Two young people place candles on the ground.
Protests are a visual reminder of the devastating war in Ukraine. Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona for Unsplash, CC BY

The difficulty of sustained focus on events like the war is due not only to the inherent fragility of moral attention, however. As cultural critics like Neil Postman, James Williams and Maggie Jackson have noted, the 24/7 news cycle is one of many pressures clamoring for our attention. Our smartphones and other technology with incessant communications – from trivial to apocalyptic – engineer environments to keep us perpetually distracted and disoriented.

Why audiences tune out

Aside from the threats to people’s attention posed by our distracting technologies and information overload, there is also the fact of crisis fatigue leading readers to consume less news.

This year, a Reuters Institute analysis showed that interest in news has decreased sharply across all markets, from 63% in 2017 to 51% in 2022, while a full 15% of Americans have disconnected from news coverage altogether.

Men looking at multiple monitors.
The sheer volume of digital news and information has an unintended side effect: News consumers are tuning out. ThisisEngineering RAEng for Unsplash, CC BY

According to the Reuters report, the reasons for this differ, in part, with political affiliation. Conservative voters tend to avoid the news because they deem it untrustworthy or biased, while liberal voters avoid news because of feelings of powerlessness and fatigue. Online news, with its perpetual drive to keep eyes trained on screens, is unwittingly undermining its own goals: to provide news and keep the public informed.

Taking a new tack

How might we recover a capacity for meaningful attention and responses amid incessant, disjointed and overwhelming news? Scholars have made a variety of recommendations, usually focused on reining in digital device usage. Beyond this, readers and journalists might consider the following:

  1. Limiting the daily intake of news can help people become more attentive to particular issues of concern without feeling overwhelmed. Cultural theorist Yves Citton, in his book “The Ecology of Attention,” urges readers to “extract” themselves “from the hold of the alertness media regime.” According to him, the current media creates a state of “permanent alertness” through “crisis discourses, images of catastrophes, political scandals, and violent news items.” At the same time, reading long-form articles and essays can actually be a practice that helps with cultivating attentiveness.
  2. Journalists can include more solutions-based stories that capture the possibility of change. Avenues for action can be offered to readers to counteract paralysis in the face of tragedy. Amanda Ripley, a former Time magazine journalist, notes that “stories that offer hope, agency, and dignity feel like breaking news right now, because we are so overwhelmed with the opposite.”

Weil, who was committed to the responsibility of moral attentiveness but did not romanticize tragedy, wrote, “Nothing is so beautiful and wonderful, nothing is so continually fresh and surprising, so full of sweet and perpetual ecstasy, as the good.”

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, Professor of Philosophy, University of North Dakota

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Random Thoughts 4-4-22


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are always living in History in the making, some years are more notable than others and sometimes there are worldwide incidents that will overshadow the rest. We are living in times where extremism has once again reared its not so pretty head, world superpowers trying to regain once lost territories with little regard for human life or freedom. And almost in every nation’s political system, there is a battle between the extremes of their political parties.

The civilian population is being fed political propaganda of one sort or another through opinion pieces often disguised as news which leaves them either divided or confused. Democracies are facing growing pains and some want to say that democracy is dying, though I just believe it is growing and changing. Any political system that is too rigid and/or too inflexible to adapt to change in the world is destined to fail.

So here we are at a pivotal and important time in history, will we navigate through it and come out the other side better as a whole? We are on the edge of what may be a world war, a war that could bring about the end of humanity and possibly all life. What we do individually is as important as what we do collectively in the end. Of course, the war scenario is more in the hands of the leaders of all the world nations, but it is the lives of each person that will be put on the line.

War is never a good option, though it will always be an option as long as we have militaries and conflicting national interests. Diplomacy is a better option but it requires all sides to be willing to compromise to bring peace. As we see in Ukraine war is a terrifying and ugly thing to live through. There is very little respect for life and/or compassion on the battlefield and most of the time civilians are looked at as unfortunate casualties / Fatalities of war if not cannon fodder by some.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

Extremism, Imperialism, and nationalism are all diseases infecting the world and may one day bring the end of humanity if we are not very careful. I am not saying one shouldn’t be proud of their nation or that you should abandon having your extreme ideals, I am saying you should also be open-minded to the possibility that there are other views and nations that could be just as good if not equal to your own.

Well, what do I know? I am just an average man in the mix and these are just my opinions that were formed from my half-century worth of experiences. I could be wrong just as well as I could be right or somewhere in the middle. I do know that war is not a good thing, what happened in Ukraine to the civilian population thus far is an atrocity and should never have happened.

We are at a pivotal point in history, which way will we pivot? what will be the new direction of humanity as a whole? We will continue down the road of war, greed, and extremism? or will we find a better path for humanity and forge a future all of our children can be proud of and live in. The choice is not only in the hands of the Governments that rule our nations, the choice is in everyone’s hands in the end.

Random Thoughts 3/15/2022


Photo by Artu016bras Kokorevas on Pexels.com

One must be awed, amazed and just plain overwhelmed by the courage, strength, fearlessness, and determination of the Ukrainian people. They are in a war/conflict where they are outnumbered, outgunned, and for most people would be considered dire or hopeless. To them, there is hope as long as there is life, something very admirable about people who face such overwhelming odds with such vigor and tenacity.

Does not matter what side you are on in this conflict, you must at least admire the people of Ukraine. They are very amazing people to take on such a big superpower and hold their own as long as they have. I myself support Ukraine, they should be able to decide their own destinies without interference from any nation be they from the east or west. To be honest though, who knows what is propaganda and what is not in this modern world. My trust in news agencies has gone way down in the last 10 years. So my support for Ukraine is less political and more of a Moral and personal opinion than anything else. Human lives are on the line and the right for a nation and people to choose their own destinies is as well.

Photo by Artu016bras Kokorevas on Pexels.com

My message to Putin is, back off and go home. You made your point and got your message out and to the rest involved, give Putin a way out so this senseless war/conflict can come to a close. Peace is the best choice, Peace by diplomacy and sanity and not peace by destruction and death.

China, be the responsible superpower you should be, regardless of your political differences and your close ties to Russia you could be the broker of peace in this situation. We all need to bring this conflict to an end and find some common ground between us all before this escalates into a full-out world war. Because we all know if another world war breaks out someone will eventually make the mistake of using nuclear weapons and that would be the end of humankind as we know it if not total annihilation.

Photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels.com

It kind of confuses me to be honest why the two of the largest nations in landmass would be so concerned about expanding or reclaiming former pieces of land that are small in comparison to their own. They pose little to no threat militarily and their economies though good is not much of a worry to such industrious nations as China or Russia. Work on diplomatic solutions, economic ties, and instead of controlling those areas, befriend them and make this world a safer and happier place for the future children of all nations, including your own.

Democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, communist / Socialist republics alike are forms of government though different they all serve the same basic function. Just because we all govern differently does not mean we can not co-exist. We will, of course, have issues with one another, especially over human rights, but I feel not a single nation out there hasn’t at one point or another failed when it comes to the human rights and treatment of its citizens.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

The demonization of other nations and their political structure only leads to mistrust and conflict, not saying we shouldn’t call out a nation doing wrong, but do it responsibly and with facts only. Leave the opinions, propaganda, and rhetoric at home. People are far more intellectual nowadays than you may realize, the majority of us do see the propaganda, political agendas being pushed through news agencies, and so on.

We quickly point our fingers to the east and say propaganda news, the state ran tv, etc, and forget though our news may be corporate, it is still propaganda to a degree and is being used by both political parties to sway the masses here at home. Disinformation and Psy-ops as they call it is being used I believed in every country to one degree or another. That is The reason so many of us do not trust news sources anymore.

Photo by Charl Durand on Pexels.com

My point is, don’t always believe what you read or see, think for yourself, and when you do read or watch news and opinions, fact check and tear it all apart to make sure what you are receiving is factual not opinion or political biased propaganda.

Well, it seems once again I have raved on long enough with my random thoughts. Right or wrong they are my opinions of what is going on in this world and my life. They may differ or may be similar to your own. But please think for yourself, don’t take what I say here for anything but what they are, the opinions of an average man.

Random Thoughts 3-7-2022


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

War only leads to the destruction, disruption, and loss of life due to political and sociological differences. The reasons for war are infinite in the minds of those waging it, the way to avoid war is diplomacy and using a rarely used collection of things such as patience, tolerance, and understanding. There are always going to be differences of opinion, ideologies, political policies, and differences in how countries chose to govern.

Watching a Superpower such as Russia invading their neighbor Ukraine seems like a high school fight between the Quarterback on the football team and the average-sized kid who doesn’t play sports. All due to the fear of Ukraine possibly joining N.A.T.O. or possibly the EU. Considering Russias Military strength and nuclear arsenal, I can not see what Russia would have to fear, Even if The U.S. were to go to war with them the use of nuclear weapons would be off the table (I would pray). Since there are no winners in a Nuclear war.

I do believe though, the 3 superpower nations and most nations, in general, do not desire a world war or the destruction of the planet we live on along with all life. Only if world leaders could put aside their differences long enough to work together on the things they all agree on, could you imagine how much as a species humankind could achieve?

Photo by Katie Godowski on Pexels.com

I definitely dislike war and do believe there is always an alternative to war, though the parties involved would be required to be more understanding and be willing to find a compromise that is fair and balanced. The War or Military exercise as it’s been called by one side is decimating the poor civilians of Ukraine, be it intentional or unintentional they are getting caught in the crossfire.

Regardless of which side you are on or support, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the loss of lives on both sides militarily should be enough of an incentive to find a peaceful solution to this conflict. Human Lives are a cost that is permanent, buildings, infrastructure, etc can be replaced and rebuilt but once a person dies it is gone.

It seems the Covid Pandemic has caused much division in the world, a lot of mistrust but worse of all it has claimed too many lives and now we add deaths of civilians and military in this conflict. Though it is nice to see many coming together to aid those in Ukraine, now if we can get a cease-fire and work on a peaceful and fair resolution to it all.

Photo by Artu016bras Kokorevas on Pexels.com

I pray for peace, world stability, and the return to some form of normalcy. I desire the peaceful, harmonious, and happy co-existence of all people on earth.

Be Blessed, Be Safe and may you all find happiness and show compassion to one another

Ray Barbier