This isn't necessarily an NF-specific topic, so I'd certainly like to hear any comments. I think it's probably something we're especially prone to though.
I find myself extremely affected by disasters, terrible acts like the Norwegian massacre this weekend, tragic news stories and so on. I can't stop myself from crying when confronted with people's grief, but more than that, I have a tendency to vividly imagine "what it must have like to be there". I have felt like that while watching the news this weekend and reading or hearing about people watching their friends being shot before their eyes; reading about the recovery of the Air France black box, the last ten minutes of that flight, feeling a tiny echo of the fear those people went through, wondering whether (as some stories suggested) they escaped the knowledge that the plane was plummeting to disaster, or not.
I visited Auschwitz a few years ago and though I cried while I was there, I think I went into a little bit of shock too. In the days and weeks after I had a hard time stopping thinking about it and kept crying whenever I did. I had a particularly hard time with the memory of the piles of suitcases recovered from victims because they all had names and addresses on them, and each name and address made me imagine that individual life - then multiply its tragic and evil loss by millions. I still well up when I think about or talk about visiting that place.
I do believe that the media exacerbates this kind of thing by its focus on tragic and shocking details, and I find it hard to look away from tragic news stories. Sometimes I realise that I've taken in too much and it's affecting me too much. My parents (who live far away, but I talk to them about once a week by phone) have realised that this affects me badly and I think they worry about that particularly as I live alone. When I started talking with them yesterday about the tragedy in Norway, they very quickly said "try not to dwell on it too much and try not to take in too much of the news - it's not good for you". Not that they want me to put my head in the sand or stop acknowledging the evil in the world, but they know it has a very unsettling effect on me.
This may not be so type-related, perhaps I am just highly sensitive in this area. I do find it hard to not leap straight to that vivid imagining of terrible events, almost as though I'm there or was there. It's also worse if I feel some sort of connection, even if it is kind of nebulous. I'm half Scandinavian, though not Norwegian, and have been to Oslo, and it just seems both easier and harder to imagine, if you know what I mean. Or with the plane disaster, I have a fear of flying phobia and even turbulence really does bad things to me.