Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Culture Desensitized to Violence?

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of yesterday morning's tragic shootings in Blacksburg, Virginia.

I followed the story as best I could, and was genuinely horrified when each new report brought more gruesome details. I was equally horrified, though, when I saw evidence of how benumbed many of us seem to have become to the violence which permeates our society. The Columbine shooting happened April 20, 1999.

I know a great deal has happened in my life during the last 8 years. The climate of the United States and our attitude towards violent behavior and its aftermath has changed, as well. I was living in New York. Many of my friends were, as well. I recall our sending e-mails back and forth throughout the day as the events unfolded. None of that happened yesterday.

Part of it, I recognize, is that our circumstances have changed. I have lost contact with several of these people. Several others are now married with families of their own. At the same time, I also get the sense that we're also just that much more jaded.

While watching a news report early this morning, I overheard someone remark that it must be a slow news day, since the networks were devoting so much time to this particular story. I was amazed at this. This was the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, yet, less than 24 hours after the fact, this particular individual seemed surprised that it was still regarded as important news.

I was similarly shocked when an acquaintance could speak of nothing else but the fact that the shooter had been identified as a resident alien. He launched into a nonsensical diatribe about the problems with our immigration policy.

I hope that these reactions are gross exceptions to the norm.

I hope that we have not become that cynical, jaded, and otherwise desensitized.


Police: Virginia Tech shooter an English major, 23

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oba - even though i'm not officially employed now (can you say freelance consulting ?), i seem to be ever the whore for the man. in 1999 i heard about columbine at the end of the day (say, 9pm) after putting in my time chained to my desk. yesterday was similar, although i will confess to having been aware of what happened as of 9am PT. i just chose not to follow the story throughout the day while i worked on a deliverable for a client.

why ? first off, let me say that what happened yesterday was a tragedy, full stop. no disputing that. however, in today's age of 24/7 news coverage, i find myself preferring to wait for a chunk of news to come in rather than inundate myself on a minute-by-minute basis with what can only be speculation. let's be realistic here - they only announced this morning the name of the shooter, and have yet to fully describe a motive for the entirety of the event. so rather than check in every few seconds hoping to get "breaking updates", i found myself preferring to wait until more of the story was in to get a more hearty helping of news.

does that make me jaded or cynical or uncaring ? i don't think so. i think it represents a push-back against our current culture of "all information all the time". i for one am saying "enough ! i'm overloaded !"

i'll leave you with a question or two to contempate: (1) which story has received / will receive more coverage - the VT shootings or the imus controversy ? (2) and in a culture properly sensitized to its humanity, which should have gotten more ? i for one think answering that will lead you to the real truth here of whether we are desensitized to violence or just looking for a train wreck at which to gawk.

(my answers: (1) imus; (2) VT.)