“Background Noise” by Shawna Hennessy is an outstanding poem that is relatable and captures emotions with sensory details. It describes how we see death and violence on the news so often that we become indifferent to it. It puts a scenario that we have all experienced into a poetic format that packs a punch of emotion in each line. “The only emotions we know are the ones we can click on” made me stop and think about how the world views tragedy and violence. The poem states, “Just another gunman shooting up a school/Another bomb blown up in an airport.”
I agree with Shawna that death is thrown around like a light topic, and often seems far away. For example, a girl attending my school passed away over the summer from an asthma attack. I heard about it through social media and at first thought it was a joke. Even after I realized that a student just like me had died, it was still shocking to see how few people knew. My school never announced it, and few students talked about it. This situation is just one of many that “Background Noise” addresses, and is tossed into the ever-growing pile of violence. Shawna accurately portrays the way we subconsciously dismiss violence, and how the media has made it seem almost monotonous.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.