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Opinion

Media numb violence within society

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February 21, 2008

Last week there were five high school shootings, but how many did you actually hear about or actually care about? As a society, we have become immune to everyday violence, simply because it happens everyday. We don’t want to read about any more shootings, we’ve seen enough of those, plus we’d rather read about Britney’s latest crazy escapade anyway.

When we encounter this violent news, we no longer give it the attention that we once did, like when the Columbine shooting happened. There has been so much overexposure of these violent events that we simply tune them out and aren’t very shocked or affected anymore. “Oh, it’s just another shooting,” we say.

Our desensitization to these horrible violent crimes is horrifying, yet we can all admit that it’s true. The only time that these events affect us now is when they are close in proximity or the death toll is high, like the Virginia Tech shooting. It is utterly disturbing that these shootings have become everyday occurrences.

To some extent, it’s a wonder why all students haven’t become paranoid and developed phobias of going to school. It’s strange, but after I graduated from high school last year, I had this feeling of relief that I would never have to be a victim of one of these violent incidents. And then there was the Virginia Tech shooting, which proved that these incidences can occur at institutions of higher education as well.

As much as we’ve become desensitized to these events, there are always those moments when you picture yourself in that situation, and it adds an element of uncomfortable fear to our everyday lives. No matter where we are, are we really safe, or do we even care anymore?

The media is unintentionally making us numb to violence. Now, I’m not one of those people who believe that violence should be prohibited from video games, TV and movies. I like a nice violent horror film as much, if not more, than the average American. Is violent media responsible for corrupting all the youth of America? No. Some, maybe. The point that I’m trying to make is not that this overexposure to violence in the media can lead to violent behavior, although it can in some instances, but that it is making us indifferent to the real-life violent events around us.

The Journal of Adolescence 27 (2004) defines desensitization as “the attenuation or elimination of cognitive, emotional, and ultimately, behavioral responses to a stimulus.” To me this makes the state of being desensitized equivalent to being dead. When we stop being affected by the devastating violence around us, we are truly dead. So I guess it makes sense. A dead person wouldn’t care about people being killed.

Taylor Caldwell discusses this desensitization to violence best in his book, A “Pillar of Iron.” “The daily spectacle of atrocious acts has stifled all feeling of pity in the hearts of men. When every hour we see or hear of an act of dreadful cruelty we lose all feeling of humanity. Crime no longer horrifies us.”

Natalie Conrad is a junior journalism and marketing communications major and French minor. She enjoys running,reading, writing, playing guitar, and traveling.