Desensitization to violence is a personal matter

Minal Patel

“Did you hear about the bomb that went off in Chelsea?” Answered with a yes or no, this question could be heard throughout the day on Sept. 17. After a brief conversation about how someone could even think about hurting innocent people, the majority of us went back to our hectic lives. The harsh reality of being able to move on from such incidents is rooted in having a desensitization to violence. In the past couple years, more than ever before, society has been forced to relive events that have pained us emotionally over and over again. Through this repeated exposure, we’re compelled to feel at least something towards those people who try to destroy peace over and over again. However, the plain truth is that we can only feel a continued emotion towards these tragedies when they directly influence our lives, when a friend or family member has a connection to these acts of violence.

Without this connection, a person is not able to have continued feelings of sadness or anger. People, essentially, are desensitized towards violence. Their emotions are limited to how close they find themselves to the issue. In a talk with a friend, she told me about how her sister was extremely close in radius to the Chelsea bombing. Even though my personal connection with her sister is limited, my emotions immediately escalated into questions about her safety and how the situation was there. This immediate need to know also forced me to think about her throughout the rest of the day. It does not necessarily matter who the person is as long as they make a lasting impression on your mental psyche and instill at least some sort of emotion into your being. 

In school environments especially, there are always people who know others that have been affected by violence. This opens up the chance to make people more sensitive towards violence. Forcing people to make connections in the hope that they’ll have continued feelings of anger and sadness allows them to open up their heart, in a sense, to tragedies that have only been thought about previously using the brain. 

The three New York and New Jersey bombings were talked about but not in the same emotional way that previous tragedies have been talked about. This may sound rather heartless, in a way that makes humanity sound like it is becoming less humane. However, it is certain that the more acts of violence we see in our world, the harder it gets for people to continuously open up their hearts to believing that peace will be established once and for all. 

The way media presents violence has often been correlated with the increasing amount of people that are desensitized. Pictures, videos and words flash across the screen 24 hours a day, to the point where people begin to distance themselves from the violence that seems to always surround them. Regardless of how the media presents adversities, it is not the fault of the news outlets. Rather, it is the people who are not able to find a reason to continuously feel one emotion. They are forced to feel a rollercoaster of feelings from sadness to angst to anger to a point where they become so overwhelmed that feeling intense emotions is no longer necessary. The first step to become more sensitive is to find a reason to believe that these tragedies affect us on a personal level. It is no longer about the goodness or badness of desensitization, instead it is about how we can put ourselves in the shoes of those affected in order to make a change that can make our world more positive and informed.