Pictures do not work on our brains according to logic. They hit lower and deeper. Emotion is not reasonable, and in fact, there is undeniable pleasure in being able to submit to un-reason, to feel something strong and true after all the titillation and trash that crosses our visual field every hour of the day.
That’s photography curator and historian Mary Panzer in a piece by James Warren at the Poynter Institute talking about why the photographs of the Syrian boy lying dead on a beach.
There are some other salient points that will help us process what we saw and how people reacted to it, but note there is a lot of cynicism in her take. Some, but not all, of it is justified.