When we first started working in disaster recovery, we were voracious consumers of all disaster related media. News stories, TV shows, documentaries, music, movies, YouTube clips, witness statements to Commissions and enquiries. You name it, we watched, read it, shared favourites with each other, and spent many hours discussing the finer points over the phone.
Feelings of intense obligation to 'not look away' drove our consumption of disaster. That if only we watched enough, heard enough, read enough we would be better disaster recovery workers.
Now that we have both worked in disaster recovery for more than a decade, we don't often watch disaster related footage, unless it's essential to our work. We have a better understanding of how repetitive media exposure affects us.
For Kate, she often doesn't feel well after she watches disaster footage and now understands that it makes it harder for her to do her job effectively. It makes it feels like she has been exposed to more disaster affected people than she actually has, and her threshold for calm, clear thinking and empathy is lowered.
For Shona, watching disaster footage seems OK at the time but when she watches too much she finds it gradually takes the colour out of life. It feels like only sad, tragic things happen and that beauty and joy are only fleeting. It makes her sad and grumpy. Not a good combo.
So, now we choose not to watch.
Whether you choose to watch FIRES when it is released or not, we hope you're taking care of yourself.