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Are We Desensitized? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The influence of the media has never really affected me. I’ve never been ones of those girls who thought she had to be stick thin like a model. I’ve never decided to go out and shoot someone because I saw it on primetime. I’ve never turned to drugs or alcohol because the media told me it was the cool thing. To tell you the truth I thought that the “perfect” family blaming their rebel son’s suicide on the media was a lot of baloney. People don’t kill themselves if they have a perfect family just because the media said to. I didn’t mourn the boy’s death. Suicide sometimes just happens.

The first time I caught a glimpse of what the media does to people was the day after the Virginia Tech massacre. I expected to come to school and find the place in a frenzy talking about what happened, how many were killed; why he decided to pull the trigger. I came to school that morning ready to see the fear in their eyes that maybe this could happen to us. I walked into the hallway where freshmen hang out before school, and slowed to a stop in numb disbelief. Everyone was fine. I couldn’t, didn’t, want to believe what I was seeing. They were fine. Standing in their groups talking about their plans for the weekend; what they did last night. One of my friends noticed me and said. “Oh my gosh, did you see the new ‘Gilmore Girls’?” I stared at her.

I walked to class in a daze and awaited the morning announcements.

“Good morning, Nooksack Valley! Today for lunch we will be having Pioneer burgers or pizza, and now Mr. Galley for an announcement.” “Hey guys, I’m guessing that all of you have heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday morning; if you could all join me in a minute of silence that would be great.” One minute. One minute for 33 lives lost, less than two seconds each. Thirty-three people who will never see their families again, be able to look at the stars, or strive for their goals. Yes, Mr. Galley, I believe I can give you a minute of my time.

For the rest of the day I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was in this place between grief for the victims and their families, and rage at the thoughtless teenagers who didn’t give a damn. It wasn’t a place I liked being. I even heard one of the teachers say it was a shame in much in the same voice she would have used had we just lost a state championship.

I went home that night and turned on the television. It was still on the same news station from early that morning, and Glenn Beck was on. I was about to change the channel since I didn’t think that I could deal with his thoughts on the matter. Suddenly a woman on his show said something that really got me listening. “It’s like we’re being calcified.”

It was then that I realized why no one seemed to care. Death was a daily occurrence. Every time we decide to sit back in our chairs and turn on the television, we see some version of the Virginia Tech massacre. On the news, on cartoons, on primetime television; death and violence are everywhere. It’s like it doesn’t matter anymore, and I think it’s a shame. It’s a shame that with every death, every rape, every punch that we see, we become a little less human, a little less able to feel the pain that we should be feeling. The minute that we pick up that remote, it’s like we lose a little of the part of our soul. We are slowly becoming desensitized, like a horse being broken in.

If only the gratuitous violence would end, we could perhaps learn to care again, to feel again. Maybe we could mourn these people the way they deserve. As if in the fifties we could flood the streets, shedding our tears, remembering; saying good-bye.

There is a sickness in my heart as I write this, for although I am wishing as hard as I can for this to come true, part of my mind is beginning to wander, wondering what time my dad will be home so that we can watch “The Shield” together. This week we’ll find out who killed all those Mexicans in the safe house. Like an addiction it calls to me, and like an addict I will go to it.

If I could call everyone who has ever lost a loved one to the effects of the media and entertainment industries, I would. Not to ask them how they are doing, or how they are dealing with their grief, but to apologize for not caring, for not thinking the media really could change you, and to tell them that I’ve lost something too. That in this day and age, it seems like everyone has lost a part of themselves. I would tell them that what happened does matter, and that suicide and murder do not have to be a part of life. Most of all, I would tell them that having people being desensitized by gratuitous violence, to the point of not caring, is the greatest social injustice of all.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

throwaway421 said...
May 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm
Is the school in the article Nooksack Valley high school in NW Washington? Just curious because I live ~20 minutes away from there.
 
That-Contrarian-Librarian said...
Mar. 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm
Excellent point and writing. It's truly terrible how concerned some people are about superficial things rather than the big picture. Violence (in offense, because defensive behavior is to be expected) and lack of morals greatly contribute to the apathy in this world...
 
millz said...
May 5, 2009 at 6:54 pm
You are sooo right! It's like nobody cares and its cuz we see it all the time.
 
Eggsley Bagelface said...
Jan. 2, 2009 at 3:45 am
Yes. We are horribly and immorally insensitive. But, you can't cry over every person who gets shot, you can't flood the streets every time something bad happens. It happens too often. If we weren't so apathetic, nothing would get done. We would be grieving for the lost strangers constantly. If it would just slow down, if we could just fix what we have, if we could just prioritize things. If.
 
180gabriel said...
Aug. 31, 2008 at 3:09 pm
A wonderfully written page. I know what your talking about, it seems that everyone at school just doesnt care about anything beyond what is happening to them. Its really sad how everything in the media revolves around the things that we hate(murder, violence, pain). Thank you for writing on this delicate subject.
 
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