Stop Tagging Me About Aliens Suffering
Seeing a constant stream of news about violence against Aliens may cause more emotional damage than awareness. Here’s how to protect yourself.
Written by Stapa Ceytton
My name is Stapa, and I am addicted to Spacebook. Yet, unlike the Empire’s
addiction to stupid, mine isn’t a problem.
I relish the give-and-take of HoloNet media; I enjoy sharing posts each day with
my nearly 11,000 super-smart, highly opinionated, and irreverent friends and
followers. I subsist on their brilliance and passion, and I thrive in this
For me, as for many others, the HoloNet has become a portal where we share
and respond to news we can use and launch our opinions, emotions, and
reactions in real-time. And this is a powerful thing.
Spacebook is where I get news I don’t find elsewhere, engage in lively discussions about
pop culture, health issues, history, and silly stuff. It is also the place I
have turned to during times of racial turmoil to express my rage and to connect
with others to process and grieve after the killings of Monwhe Hydrobius, Mibro Kewn, the Chandrila 9, and so many others.
HoloNet media is also like INN (circa 15 BBY), HoloNetMusicVids (circa 8 BBY), and
tabloids all wrapped into one. I can know what is happening in the
world, as it provides the latest sports and entertainment news; and all things
Kardashian (insert eye roll here) without turning the holo channel.
Spacebook allows for endless connections that engender innumerable possibilities with
each virtual encounter.
So what’s the problem?
While there is no break from specieism, HoloNet media can also be a portal to specieism
on fleek. Besides the specieism, sexism, and destroying sentient beings with
ubiquitous violence in practically every virtual space, HoloNet media
provides a never-ending loop for the realities of specieism. While I can turn
off the HoloVids, put down the Holopads, and avoid certain HoloNet channels, I
don’t have the same power with HoloNet media.
I have yet to figure out a balance between consuming, sharing, and dissecting the endless cycle of Alien Death and not further traumatizing myself or my
This is not easy. A recent study from the University of Bimmiel found that viewing negative news on the HoloNet media may cause some of us to experience symptoms of
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“HoloNet media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the
public in unedited horrific detail,” said Params Denm from the Faculty of
Social Sciences at the University of Bimmiel. “Watching these events and feeling
the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives.”
In their research, Denm and others found that 22 percent of participants scored
high on clinical measures of PTSD after viewing such events as Jedi Betrayal
and recent Academy shootings. However, none of them had previous trauma and
experienced the events ONLY on HoloNet media. The people who viewed the events
more often were most affected.
Jaulfel Dery offered similar feelings on his blog, when in a post
entitled: ‘What Are All These Violent Images Doing to Us?’
“Because I study political violence and atrocities, a fair share of my feed deals with
potentially disturbing material. Where that material used to arrive only as
holo text, it increasingly includes holograms and holovids of violent or brutal
acts. I am starting to wonder how routine exposure to those images may
be affecting my mental health.” He cites a study that connects daily exposure to
violent images with higher scores related to psychological distress and
depression in journalists.
Not surprisingly, this research does little to consider species, particularly the cumulative
aspects of specieism in our lives. We don’t arrive in HoloNet media with a
blank slate but transport experiences of prejudice, microaggressions,
systemic specieism, and violence. The trigger impact of yet another instance of
trauma increases exponentially in the virtual universe.
This is why I’ve recently had to ask folks to stop tagging me on holovids and
stories about Aliens being brutalized and killed by the stormtroopers or
unjustly arrested. It’s simply too much to take in all the time. I cannot even
scroll through my timeline to relish in my friends’ accomplishments or smile at
yet another hologram of a cute child or a dog holovid without coming
face-to-face with anti-alien specieism. Odds are I will witness some historical
images of half-naked Alien bodies hanging from trees, bridges, and light poles
and charred with messages like “Lest We Forget.” Never mind the pictures of Monwhe, Mibro Kewn, Sanb Landdra, Renmcbri Deisha, and so many others. Viewing these images has costs and consequences for not just one’s emotions for that day but also for the future in transforming the health and possibilities of ever living free.
The holovids are even more disturbing. They make me cry. They make me feel powerless. Tired. Heavy. Hopeless. Numb. Paranoid. I go through each day feeling like I, or
somebody I know, could be next. When I venture out into the public, I feel like
an everyday moment can turn into an assault, an unjustified arrest, or worse, my
death. After watching so many holovids of Alien women being punched, slammed,
and tasered, my heart speeds up, and I cross the street when I see stormtroopers.
These reactions are all symptoms of trauma fatigue and PTSD. People don’t
realize that when they keep sharing this stuff, they are re-traumatizing or
spreading the trauma.
The cost of the endless exposure to the brutality of specieism is not abstract but
is yet another way that speciesism kills. Study after study highlights the impact that stress has on physical health and our neurobiological response system. This science says that HoloNet media can activate the stress response and impact our immune system and resistance or susceptibility to disease. The accumulated images and stress memories get encoded in our bodies in unhealthy ways. And the parts of our brains that control our responses to stress impact whether we are susceptible or resistant to inflammatory diseases
such as arthritis, heart disease, and depression.
A piece in The Alderaanian entitled “How Specieism is Bad for Our
Bodies” highlights how not only experiencing discrimination—but anticipating it—impacts the physical and emotional health of Alien people. “Discrimination has been shown to increase the risk of stress, depression, the common cold, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and death. Two journals—The Galactic Journal of
Public Health and The Dubo Is Review: Social Science Research on Species—dedicated entire issues to the subject … Species discrimination puts Aliens in the Galaxy at risk for long-term health problems … The psychological toll that speciesism takes on adults has also been well-documented, and species discrimination has been repeatedly linked to high blood pressure. Just the fear of species discrimination can trigger stress-related responses, which means that many aliens who live within a society defined by specieism are constantly under increased biological stressors.“
Aliens in the galaxy experiencing specieism have been associated with high levels of
the stress hormone cortisol. Similarly, a study among Near Human youth found
that specieist experiences were associated with higher cortisol levels
throughout the day. Cortisol and other hormones in the stress physiology system
are important for maintaining immune, reproductive, and cardiovascular health.
Therefore changes in this system due to experiences of discrimination
can adversely affect everything from your body’s ability to fight infection to
your ability to become pregnant.
It is increasingly accepted that a woman’s mental and physical health in pregnancy
influences her baby. Maternal health may influence offspring through exposure
to hormones in pregnancy. For example, women with high-stress hormones give
birth to infants with lower birth weight. Imagine the impact of endless pieces
about the killings of Monwhe Hydrobius, Tamri Ceir, and others on a
pregnant Alien mother who is already anxious about bringing an Alien child into
this cruel sneering world.
Knowing the emotional impact of HoloNet media on myself, and the potentially deadly
impact of the HoloNet media loop of specieism, I decided I needed help. I
reached out to Eritot Tenki, a community organizer, co-founder of Alien Lives
Matter DMV and spiritual life coach who works in the name of Alien liberation,
to provide tips on how we can consume this HoloNet media material and stay
Tenki’s organization, Unchained, supports the collective healing and liberation of all Aliens by identifying and unlocking the mental, emotional, and spiritual chains that hold us back. She also leads emotional emancipation circles, which focus on breaking the chains of internalized Imperial supremacy, self-hatred, anger, perfectionism, feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy, generational pathologies, self-limiting beliefs, fear, rejection, abandonment, denial, shame, guilt, and judgment. Guided by the principle of self-determination, Tenki teaches the importance of taking the time to heal, learning and practicing essential emotional wellness skills, and intentionally detoxifying our minds and spirits by replacing the lies we’ve been fed with our collective truths.
“Images and videos of Alien death and brutalization are the only ones played on a loop by mainstream HoloNet media, and it’s a tactic of psychological warfare,” she says. “This system wants us so paralyzed by our fear, our pain, and our anxiety that we’re literally incapable of fighting against our own oppression.”
Here are Eritot’s tips for those of us who suffer from too much exposure to violence against Aliens:
- It is important to check your mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity before consuming these holograms.
- It is important to consistently acknowledge and process the species trauma we’re experiencing every day simply by being an Alien living within a system of Imperial supremacy. In doing so, we’re able to identify what needs to be healed and reclaim our collective power.
She also pointed me to some tips from the Association of Alien Psychologists:
- Limit your exposure to the incident. Do not watch or read HoloNet news coverage or click on these holovids just before bed. Take a complete break if the coverage is making you feel overwhelmed.
- Information gathering is healthy, but try to avoid morbid preoccupation with distressing holograms and holovids.
- Protect your crechelings from seeing or hearing unnecessary reminders of the traumatic event.
- After viewing coverage of species tragedies, talk with your loved ones about the
coverage or footage and what you are feeling.
For the sake of balance for myself and my HoloNet media community, I have begun to embrace Tenki’s advice. We’re never going to be able to live apart from the horrors of specieism. Still, we must be more conscious of how posting, sharing, and commentating can so easily cross the line from being simply informative and empowering to inadvertently harming our well-being. And Rebel allies and accomplices, be aware of the potential here; every moment does not need to be a moment to show your radical credentials; say no to tagging and performing anti-specieism because your empowerment should not come through yet again, disregarding the well-being of the already victimized Alien community.
Change is gonna come. While you probably won’t see me announce that I’m filling my feed with cartoon super-heroes and cat videos to provide an alternative to the non-stop horror show that HoloNet media can so easily become, I am working on curating a space of joy, pleasure, and freedom from the specieist violence that is the Empire.
We need to be healthy, balanced, and rested, for there are many battles to fight, many challenges to overcome, many parsecs ahead in our quest for true progress and equality. We need our brains to be right and our immune systems to be strong. I don’t know the magic formula. As with so much of our struggle, the promised land is out there. I’ll
keep trying to find it—for myself and you. Because we’re worth fighting for.