I’ve seen this happen a lot:
- Something awful happens to someone
- Or they see something awful happen to someone else
- Or they notice a thing that’s awful in the world
- And then they write something about it
- And they put a lot of effort into writing it, so it is really polished
And then a lot of…
There is an another side here. Some people, including me, have had our need for expressing ourselves shut down by being told what happened to us is ugly and speaking about it is ugly. Sometimes people tell you that what happened to you shouldn’t happen as a way of shutting down expression and focusing solely on prevention.
It’s easy to internalize all of this and think that if your pain isn’t beautiful then the world deserves to be sheltered from hearing it. Sometimes what happened hurt you so deep that you feel like it’s part of who you are, so if it’s ugly so are you. And that gets backed up by the fact that most of the discourse is raising awareness by showing how awful it is and then focusing on prevention because its too late for the victims.
Society sometimes writes off the victim, or at least talks like it. It makes it easier to write yourself off if people seem to agree. But if people tell you that even when the bad thing is all you can think about you can still make beautiful things that make you worth knowing, that can be a big help in getting through to a better place or just being happy in the place you’re in.
The concerns the op raised are important too and I’m not sure how best to balance them other than looking for signs of what the person telling the story seems to need. If the telling of the story is full of searches for meaning than maybe compliment its beauty. Same if the teller is self conscious about over-sharing or saying things nobody wants to hear. But if they’re just making an earnest complaint I guess you should address the content first.
Or you could always say both: like “First of all that was very beautifully written. What happened to you was awful and you expressed that really well. I feel bad that happened; is there anything I can do to help you now?” Or if it’s mostly strangers commenting on a post, then you can see which type of response there is not enough of and write one of those?
Just some ideas. I’m not sure the full solution but I felt the need to describe the other side because I’m often on it.
That is important, and something I need to think about more. Thank you for pointing it out.