Desensitisation

I sit here, partially watching the news whilst I check my email accounts and do some general administrative stuff. I swore to myself I would not blog this week. I’m exhausted, and I was taking the week off. Even WordPress didn’t want me to post a blog tonight, as it bombed out on this post once already – I lost 3/4 of this post that I had finished fine-tuning with such gusto. 

Not even technical issues will stop me, as I cannot hold back.  I’m incredibly troubled by the messages and pictures the media portray to us in this day and age. The war, the bloodshed, the hysteria. Perpetuating a need for us to see pictures of a dead body. I believe that the mass media are one of the main contributors to the increasing desensitisation of people within our society, the prevalence of violence and the proliferation of the virus that is hatred. But we are also at fault, as most of us sit there not questioning what we are seeing – lapping it up.

I know some of you may not understand where I am coming from, therefore I leave you these words from Martin Luther King Jr:

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” 

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28 thoughts on “Desensitisation

  1. Janine,

    Technology can sure have it’s hiccups!

    I have no desire to watch anymore news on him and am sure that many people took their time to identify and to see proof is disgusting.

    Thanks for this post and get some rest!!! Don’t worry over blogging!

  2. I hear and agree with you on this one Janine…and it brings back to mind something I saw years ago on TV and will never forget…
    I was watching the evening news when they reported the death of a reporter…Bill Stewart was his name…handsome, intelligent, he was one of my favorite reporters….
    I was upset to hear it, then they warned that what they were going to show was graphic in nature…I had no idea what they were talking about, until they showed footage of Stewart being shot in the back of the head, shot as he was on his knees trying to explain that he was media and no threat to the person holding the gun…it was in South America and he was covering the Sandanista revolution…
    I will never forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach…I was horrified…
    To this day I believe it was NOT necessary to show that, and I have always hoped none of his family saw it…but it was the beginning of a new type of journalism that feeds on the shocking and the extreme…I believe for ratings…and I have yearned since that day to go back to a time when we were given news without all the graphic violence…
    I think sometimes a photo is needed…but we should take extreme care in what we present…because once we cross a threshold, we can’t go back, only forward, and just as wars escalate, so does the extremism in reporting…

    this is all my opinion…for what it is worth…and bravo to you for putting your voice out there as the voice of reason….
    ~cath

    • Cath – thank you for sharing your story with us and that of Bill. Scary and horrific.
      It’s strange as – going off on a tangent – I recall really noticing a few years back when horror/thriller films changed. Gone was the suspense or ‘tacky’ gore. Thanks to films such as ‘Saw’ and ‘Wolf Creek’ a new level of gore was introduced to the public which was more in line with watching some kind of sadistic torture. I guess this can be taken even further with video games – I still remember the shock and horror when ‘Mortal Combat’ was released when I was a teenager.
      Thank you again Cath (and thanks so much for including my blog on your blog roll).

  3. I absolutely agree. Earlier this morning, when someone asked how I felt about certain pictures and information online and in the news over the last day or so, I said something very similar to the Martin Luther King Jr. quote. I didn’t realize he said that. I think I’ll post that quote on my Facebook page.

  4. We have yet to see any pictures of a dead body here in the US – at least I haven’t seen them. Reactions are all over the place – some quite inappropriate.

    My physician daughter found this: “If this means there is one less death in the future, then I’m glad for that,” said Mr. Waizer, who was in an elevator … when the plane struck the building. He made it down the stairs but suffered third-degree burns. “But I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.”

    I think many of us feel conflicted by seeing people rejoice at the death of another. I can’t rejoice, but I’m not going to lose much sleep over this particular death. I’m not sure how the foreign press will portray the typical American reaction, but I’m probably in the majority.

    I am worn out by the violence of my lifetime. Endless war. I posted about it not too long ago.

    http://bluedollarbill.blogspot.com/2011/04/bring-them-home.html

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. … Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    -John Donne
    Meditation 17

    • Hi Thom,

      Those are some very poignant quotes. Thank you.

      As to the foreign press, unfortunately over the last few days the vision that was portrayed – to us here anyway – was one of celebration and jubilation, with a big focus on people cheering for joy. I think that was the most confronting and worrying thing, but again that is down to what and who the media choose to focus on. It has died down a bit now, which is good.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. I will never rejoice in the death of anyone. That said, I can’t help thinking that it might bring some closure to the families of the victims.

  6. I found an easy remedy to this fascination the media seems to have with the awful part of the news—I don’t watch the news, ever! And I am still viewed as a rather intelligent individual. I just don’t have to participate in discussions about the news anymore (thank goodness!).
    -Jeannette

    • That’s fab Jeanette. I stopped a while back but seem to have gotten back into the habit of watching the new (and my partner has just started getting the NEWSPAPER delivered to our house nooooo). I made sure this evening that I switched on the cartoons instead : )

  7. In some ways, I’m kind of glad that I don’t keep up with the news much. There’s even here in my locality to focus on and it’s Peruvian tradition to celebrate everything, so we always celebrate the person if there’s a death. Strangers will even attend funerals. Here, I think it’s less desensitization and more care for the community.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Janine!

  8. Hi Janine, I admire you for your tenacity and for the heartfelt post about the violence we see today.

    First of all, I am also exhausted from blogging and all my other commitments. However, the blame is on my blog! Secondly, I avoid reading the news because of all the negativity. However, when my husband is watching it on TV I try to not pay attention (blogging helps here!)

    It’s almost been a year since I have read news or actively go in search for news. I once heard, if it is news, you will hear it. And that is so true.

  9. Aloha Janine,
    I can’t watch television, especially the news. It literally causes me physical pain.

    Cath’s description of what she saw makes me never want to watch again. Poor Cath! I feel sorry for the millions/billions who do not realize that compassion is an art form that is in your own best interest to develop. Being less sensitive is a very harmful thing to do to yourself!

    It has been uplifting for me to connect with so many others that feel the way I do. Facebook has been shocking as well as comforting. We sure found out a lot more than we ever knew before about ourselves and our friends, didn’t we?

    Many blessings,
    Carrie

    • Great point Carrie. I know I was always criticised for being ‘too sensitive’ but these days I embrace it as it is me, and there is nothing wrong with that. I love that I have ‘sensitive’ friends too.
      You are so spot on about Facebook. I know I’ve been pushed to removing some family as friends on Facebook due to the language and general way some of them carry on…which I just don’t want to know – even if they are kinda family!

  10. It’s funny, this quote has been at the forefront of my mind over the last few days as well. The way things are makes me wonder who are the bad guys?

  11. Janine, I can only echo your and the other sentiments expressed here. Too many people in this world are hell bent on revenge without thinking that revenge breeds a cycle of revenge and repercussions that may be beyond anything we can possibly imagine. I could almost weep to see all the people cheering and celebrating without a thought of what may come as a result. The media of course was jubilant and behaving like cheerleaders. However, in their defense, for many Americans particularly New Yorkers, this brings a sense that justice has been done. Maybe this will make some people feel safer that the serpent’s head has been cut off. Maybe this will make a divided country come together more. Maybe it will help this country regain some of its lost self-confidence. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But what about all the other equally venomous vipers intent on revenge left out there?
    BTW, I’m also suffering a bit from the blogging blues. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break.

  12. I witness so much gruesome acts on television that I keep wondering why I keep watching it. Maybe the media wants to arouse sympathy in us, or it is another of their TRP increase tactics.

    As for the death, as a Muslim I have seen a few of my family and friends become victims of hate religion; constantly being criticized and questioned of our living style, they way we dress, our beliefs. One man made it tough for the rest of us. The point is not killing the problem, killing the root that caused the problem, the misconception that has clouded a community and has made it a constant struggle for us. All I hope is for a better world where we aren’t judged on how we look, where we are from and what our religion is.

    Thanks for letting me vent on such a sensitive issue. Your posts are so much more powerful.

    • Hi Hajra,
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts and vent. I will say I understand where you are coming from in a way. After September 11, on walking down the street with my partner, he would be heckled and called a terrorist and told to go home. He has lived here since he was 4 and sounds more Aussie then Aussie. I also had the pleasure last year of completing a women’s leadership program via the Muslim Womens Support Centre, courtesy of a wonderful friend I made who suggested I join. I was blessed to be in a group of amazing young women from all walks of life, many of whom were Muslim. I will say that the women I met are some of, if not the most beautiful souls and generous spirits – and I am incredibly thankful to all of them for sharing their friendship, thoughts, beliefs and love with me. Never did they look down on me or judge me – and I’m not religious at all and always said I had not ‘faith or culture’. I know now I have some kind of faith but dont put a name to it. Seriously, I will never understand why people have such issues because a woman chooses to wear a Hijab, or people eat Halal food, etc. I can draw so many parallelisms to things in western society such as people who are vegan, people who wear hats or bikinis, etc.

  13. It is a fast paced, high energy, high tech and ever knowing society we are living these days. I do watch the news, I listen to the radio commentarys, I listen to speakers, I read the newspaper and stay current on the internet. Call me crazy but I have always wanted to know what others are thinking and feeling.

    I agree with you as to the media and their tactics for the almighty dollar. And that is what drives most media frenzy, getting the picture, the story and then twisting it a bit with an attention grabbing title. Hmmm sounds a little familiar – but it is our reality and I take only the positive out of everything that I see and hear. Always have and always will.

    I am glad that you are sharing this post Janine. It seems to get a lot of people talking and that is a ‘positive’ reaction you can be proud of!

    • Thanks Lynn.
      The discussions have been fantastic as a result of this post and I’m so glad I published it as I did second guess it…as we all do with some posts. I was worried about spammers and angry people from the www, etc but did not need to be. It’s a huge credit to the bloggers and readers I socialise with, or whom bless me with swinging past my blog. An intelligent, wise, amazing bunch of people.

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