It used to be that when disasters occurred, you'd read about them in the newspapers or see edited footage on the news. We were able to empathise and sympathise with those poor people who were affected and wonder briefly about the what-ifs. Then we got on with our lives until something else happened.
I am sure that if something big had happened in South Africa, we would have felt more affected by it but we would have moved on.
After September 11, I was unsettled but, as I understood that it was people deciding to commit atrocities, I could move on. Living in the UK when tube bombings happened was harder, I knew people who knew people who were affected but there was still distance - we lived in a small village and very rarely travelled into London. And, again it was the actions of people.
With Hurricane Katrina and the Boxing Day Tsunami, I was concerned and very sad for the people affected but there was distance, I was only seeing the edited footage and reading the well edited reports. But there was a more tangible fear in my heart about the unpredictability of nature...
But I put it behind me.
However, right at this moment I am unable to put the recent natural disasters behind me. In my unprofessional opinion, it's due to the immediacy of the news. It's the unedited blow by blow that floods my television screen, my news feed, my blog subscriptions. my favourite radio station. There isn't a distance, there is no sanitising of the horror. It is immediate. It is now and it is more real. It could be the view from my window that I am seeing. It is not just happening in Japan, it is not just happening to them, it's happening to all of us and it is hard to escape it.
Most of days I am happy for the immediacy of our global village... But, right at this moment, it is a very slippery slope to the rabbit hole. Do we know how to get out of it?