Thursday, January 21, 2021

Desensitized to violence in the media

I rode in the backseat of my friend’s car on the way to SUNY Cortland, crushed up against the car door like an accordion because we attempted to pack five people into a Ford Focus. My phone buzzed at my hip, and the screen flashed with an update from the New York Times — “Over 100 killed in hostage situation in Paris.”

My heart sank as I immediately thought to the well-being of my childhood best friend, Hayley, who is currently studying abroad in Paris. I Facebook-messaged her right away to check if she was alright. She was, thank goodness.

I read the article aloud to my friends in the car, and their replies were, “Oh, shoot,” or “Oh man, that sucks.” No one was too shocked or astounded, and that, to me, is a pretty sad fact.

Can it be that we’ve become so desensitized to violence in the media that it barely phases us anymore?

I remember September of 2001. I was in second grade and hadn’t a care in the world. One day, I was told that my dad had come into school to pick me up early. I was almost positive that I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, so I was fairly confused. He took me by the hand, with my brother following behind, and walked us out into the parking lot.

He then disclosed to us that there had been a plane crash in New York City. “The World Trade Centers,” he told us. Fortunately, panic was the last thing I felt. I was wondering what any of that had to do with me and why it merited him taking us out of a perfectly good school day.

It wasn’t until I got home that I started realizing that something might be wrong in our world. My mom had the news on. The panicked faces of news anchors flashed across the screen and, although I was young, I could read at the bottom of the screen the words “terrorist attack.”

At that point, I did start to worry at the realization that I also lived in New York, and I began to wonder if, at any moment, a plane could come crashing into my own home.

Since that point, our media has been covering every aspect of the War in Iraq. They’ve covered natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and Hurricane Katrina. They’ve covered every school shooting from Columbine to the recent shootings in Oregon. They’ve covered gun violence, bombings, stabbings and kidnappings. If you turn on the news right now, if they’re not showing a politician, it’s almost certain that they’re showing violence.

It all leads me to wonder if the news has always been like this. In my lifetime, it certainly has. And I understand why, of course. These are big stories that can’t be ignored. If they happen, we can’t pretend like they didn’t. But it all makes me upset that our world is so violent that that’s the largest aspect of our news coverage.

Has the world become more and more violent throughout the years? Will we ever have one day where the news we receive is purely positive?

In my lifetime, I’d have to say that I do believe we’ve become desensitized to violence. It’s unfortunate but true. I can only hope that, by the time I have children, they won’t have to see so much death and destruction illuminated on a TV screen.

Email Courtney Casey at courtney.casey@cardinalpointsonline

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