I don’t know when it started. The 80’s? 90’s? The early 2000’s? Maybe it’s always been around and I have just lived oblivious during my earlier years. It seems to me more and more people today are desensitized to violence. It makes me sad thinking about it.
Going far beyond simply being desensitized to violence, our culture seems to propagate it.
Let me illustrate a personal example:
A year or so ago I was once in a meeting room with a group of about 15 or 20 people, and during a quick break in our meeting, someone asked the organizer to pull up a random video on YouTube for all of us to watch, a common request for such meetings. The one that was chosen was a recording from somebody’s dash cam on their car, and it showed someone getting dragged out of their car and physically beaten for some minor traffic related transgression while driving.
Do you know what happened in that room? People laughed at that video. Not everyone in the room, but a majority of them saw another human’s pain and abuse as something entertaining.
Personally this experience was an eye opening one for me. I was shocked and appalled that not only was this deemed perfectly normal by the majority present, but that it was enjoyed, encouraged! And no, it wasn’t simply that the group was laughing out of awkwardness or embarrassment either, though I wish that would have been the case. It would have made the reality of it a lot easier to swallow for me.
And I know that this is not an isolated case either. Take a look at social media, or YouTube, or any other popular collaboration medium today. Take a look at the “news” as we jokingly call it. What videos are popular? What stuff goes “viral” online? Really stop and examine it. What do you see? Do you, like me, see an alarming majority of violence, aggression, pain, fear, and any number of other negative feelings and situations being “popular” or “trending”?
Why is this? Why are we as a culture, as a society, as a race and a species, celebrating and elevating fear and pain and hurting of others?
By putting these things up on a pedestal, giving them our energy and attention, at best it is passing on feelings of shock, fear, and pain to others. At worst, empathy is so lacking that we seem to seek out these scenarios for our own satisfaction, entertainment, and even pleasure.
It is as if the hurting of others actually brings us joy.
Is this what we have become? Are we proud of this behavior? Are we okay with our daily “news” being nothing but shocking and negative events going on around the world at any given moment while the real news and breakthroughs and positive things pass by unnoticed?
Are we okay with knowing the names of mass murderers and the daily death tolls, and yet the names of the medical scientists that just found a cure for a particular disease will never see the light of day?
Are we satisfied with the fact that we couldn’t tell you the names of the inventors who brought us the camera, the television, the internet, or the cell phone, and yet we can tell you all about the horrific shootings or the aftermath of a natural disaster, or “that one video where the guy breaks his arm and his friend laughs at him”?
Because I for one am not okay with this.
I think we as a people need to learn to re-sensitize ourselves to violence and pain. Learn once again how to be empathetic to another human being’s plight. Understand what it means to be hurt, what it feels like to be sad, and then never again wish those feelings towards any other person or make light of them when another person is experiencing such events.
We need to think, and we need to feel. To empathize with other humans is of a vital importance to the integrity of our species.
We need to no longer be satisfied with thoughtlessness. We need to revel in acts of kindness, empathy, giving, selflessness, compassion, and love. These are the things we should be propagating and elevating and celebrating as one whole connected species living together on this planet.
The more we are able to empathize with others, to propagate positivity instead of negativity, the more we will be able to lift one another up and elevate ourselves. The more we elevate ourselves, the less violence, suffering, upheaval and pain will take place on this Earth, and the better off all of our lives will be for it.
But to do that, we have to first wake up, to think, and to remember how to care for another’s plight.