As violence occurs across the nation, citizens seem to become more apathetic with each passing incident. News of violent acts has become the norm, and Americans have become desensitized. Americans should make a conscience effort to stay informed of violent or sad news and show compassion to one another.
It is almost as if when we see an update for a new mass shooting it gets easier and easier to scroll past on our smart devices.
According to Anita Gadhia-Smith, a psychologist in Washington, living in a digitally-linked world where broadcasts of violence are instantaneous and almost commonplace means that many of us are becoming desensitized.
Americans have access to news 24/7. One could turn on the TV to watch Fox or CNN at any hour of the day. While driving, any radio station could have news updates for listeners. Local news is shown three to four times daily. A smartphone has push notifications informing users of breaking news. A simple glance at Facebook will most likely contain some sort of news update. Everywhere we look, there’s the potential for being a little more informed.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “exposure to violence at high levels or across multiple contexts has been linked with emotional desensitization, indicated by low levels of internalizing symptoms.”
With the current state of America, any of this news has a great potential of being negative— a multitude of mass shootings, instances of police brutality, police being murdered, the death of a celebrity or former president. Often times, the amount of harm caused is what determines if there is extensive coverage of an event. There is a saying in journalism: “If it bleeds, it leads,” meaning if there is something violent, it will most likely need to be the first thing covered that day.
However, it is not always a news problem; it is a people problem.
People have lost their compassion toward others. There is so much partisan fighting and officials who instigate the fighting and division that it has turned people against each other. A modern-day civil war takes place on Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter and in the White House every day. There is so much fighting between Republicans and Democrats that people are losing family members and their lives because of their political beliefs.
With the recent passing of former President George H.W. Bush, many people have taken to various social media outlets calling him a terrible person and that no one should mourn his death.
The time to criticize is not immediately after the death of a public figure. The time to criticize is when that person is actively doing harm. People can change and become better. An interview from 10, 20 or 30 years ago is not an accurate portrayal of who the person is today or on the day he or she passes away.
Americans have lost compassion for one another. If we treat one another in softer ways, give each other a break every now and then and look around to see how truly blessed we are, this world would become a better place.
Limiting news consumption can be helpful to people experiencing desensitization, but overall, the solution is not distancing oneself from violent or sad news. The solution is to become kinder to one another, and maybe then the violence will stop.