To reduce suffering to a spectator sport is to perpetuate our suffering
Many movies depict suffering, but in such a way that it seems to be something that happens to those people out there. And watching it gives may give us some strange kind of stimulation, as do people on watching horror movies. With satellite communication bringing real time coverage of wars into our living rooms or phones, the shelling of military encampments or, worse still, civilian establishments becomes reduced to a perverse kind of spectator sport.
No doubt, seeing the ghastliness of suffering sometimes galvanizes people to help, but such instances are often much lesser than the number of incidents depicted in the media. And given the increasing frequency of such depiction, people tend to cope with the repetitive inflow of grisly imagery by mentally switching off. That is, they treat the suffering as a form of entertainment wherein they vicariously link with the sufferer to get a horror movie kind of titillation, while also protecting themselves from the immediacy of the suffering by treating it as a distant event, as if the distance somehow made it less real.
Gita wisdom explains that our attempts to avoid facing the reality of suffering are understandable because we are at our core spiritual beings with an innately pleasure-seeking nature. Unfortunately, when we consciously or subconsciously treat suffering as a spectator sport, we miss the opportunity to gain this inference and thus continue staying at the material level of reality, thereby perpetuating our suffering. The misery that characterizes material existence is meant to remind us of our incompatibility with matter, thereby inspiring us to redirect our consciousness from matter to spirit, from the world to God. In fact, the Bhagavad-gita (13.09) urges us to systematically observe the miseries of material existence – such observation will reinforce our conviction to focus undistractedly on seeking spiritual growth.