Empathy Fatigue

So I’m backstage on stage-managing duty for the school’s production of the Shakespearean play I was takling about a couple posts ago. I don’t have to be occupied at all times anymore, so I figured I’d blog backstage. My duty is to clean up the stage and backstage before and after the show, and to check all the props are on the prop tables and that people get to places at the right times. We’re running the whole show tonight – in costume and with full tech and music. It’s all looking good. It’s just sad I’m not getting to watch it coz I have to be backstage at all times. And we just started Act 1, Scene 1.

I just finished watching Sally Field’s acceptance speech of the HRC Ally for Equality Award, presented by her gay son Sam Greisman. I had never heard of either of them before, but she seems like a nice little old lady, a very supportive mom. Well, that video clip took me back to how I started to get involved with the LGBT rights movement and social activism. I signed a petition on AllOut.org against the bill in Uganda that would criminalize all queer folks some years ago, even before I came out. The petition was successful. And I got connected with other activist groups through social media: PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays), GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), HRC (Human Rights Campaign), Freedom to Marry, Wipeout Homophobia (formerly Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook), The Trevor Project, etc. They’re all very ardent laudable organizations fighting for a number of worthwhile causes for the LGBTQ community. They’re also great for resources and updates within the community.

As great as they are and as hard as they are working, there is something I don’t appreciate: spam mail! Yes, whenever I sign a petition, I get signed up for their email list and I start receiving emails almost on a daily basis. They update me on important events like pride and dire events (like the Ugandan anti-gay law) that need to be taken action against. And they ask for donations. They urge the recipients to contact local law-makers, when something bad is going on, and send them thank-you notes, when something gets accomplished. These all seem ok and legitimate reasons to send out emails to people, but they get annoying when they flood in to the mailbox. And I don’t get to taking any action as the email suggests.

Donations? I’m a college student of average financial status. I have my daily expenses on caffeine and junk food. Good thing I don’t drink. And I am a gay fashionita extravagant on clothes and accessories. Yeah, it’s egotistical but I’ll admit I end up spending most of my money on myself. But I believe I’ve made donations a couple of times – which is many times (for me).

As for petitions, protests and such, I can’t bother to react to every single word of asininity that some ignorant conservative blathers on a random occasion. Ok, if some country as a whole is trying to eliminate its queer population, that’s one other thing. We NEED to take action. There was a loud applause from our community when President Obama stood up for same-sex marriage, but I wonder if sending him and his administration a thank-you note necessary.

We have a serious case of empathy fatigue, people! I can understand why those activist organizations keep ejaculating emails into our inboxes. Because not enough people care about their cause. Tons of people would identify as allies, but mostly because they are too cool not do do so. So the organizations felt the need to sign up those handful few that showed they care (by signing some petition) on an email list. It’s not that the newsletter emails aren’t meaningful, they are. They just get annoying over time. These activists have to beg for attention from people, which is a sad thing. And, in consequence, those emails have very sadly become nuisance. So does this way of shoving what has become spam mail in people’s inboxes help the cause. I have no idea! Only those organizations themselves would know. But on my side of things, I feel guilty from time to time that I don’t read those newsletter mails anymore and that I let them make their way into trash or spam folder, when I am obviously from the LGBTQ community myself.

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