Desensitization to Violence is Real


Myajah Johnson, Opinion Editor

With exposure to inhumane incidents comes not only a loss of innocence, but a lack of surprise as well. As our access to different content through the media grows, so does the rate at which we are exposed to things.

There comes a point in life where you’ve been exposed to something so repetitively that it eventually just becomes normal. It seems that this holds true when it comes to gun violence. 

Due to the repetitive nature of these traumatic events, American society has finally reached the point where we’ve become desensitized to these violent occurrences.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, desensitization can be defined as a state in which one has been made “insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent.” 

What does that mean for us? It means that we’ve grown a lack of emotion or reactivity when it comes to violence. It happens so much that it feels like it’s happening all of the time.

Much of this feeling stems from social media. Social Media plays such a prevalent role in this generation, but most can agree that it’s poisonous to many of its users. Apps like Instagram and TikTok give people outlets to easily share whatever they want. 

The second something traumatic happens, people immediately take to their socials to post about it. The apps instantly become flooded with pictures and videos of these devastating events that it becomes nearly impossible to escape it.

It is getting to the point where you could be scrolling, looking at actual enjoyable content then within seconds see a man getting choked out by the police; slowly losing his life.

Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Treyvon Martin, the list of names goes on and on, really; however, despite each of these names having devastating stories attached to each of them, after a while of the same story repeated, they start to blend together. This doesn’t mean that they have any less of an impact than they do, it’s simply just a raw representation of how frequently these things are happening.

Thinking that someone was capable of committing a crime as such is something unfathomable. But now, gun violence has become a day to day practice that’s almost as natural as breathing. 

A most tragic example of this was a Nashville school shooting this past March. Footage from this disaster was released and can be found by simply typing in a few words on YouTube. In this video, heart wrenching screams can be heard echoing through the school building as the police were looking for the suspect.

Only a few years ago, stuff like this would have been considered sensitive information with trigger warnings that was hard to access. Doesn’t that make you wonder why there is no filtering from these kinds of things being leaked now?

If gun violence continues to be normalized, it will open the door for even more desensitization in the future. In other words – more mass shootings, police brutality, school shootings etc. 

On top of this, it also finds a way to creep its way into things that you might have not even realized like video games. 

Take the game Call of Duty, for example. The main objective of the game is to shoot enough people in order to prevail in a war. Even with age limits on video games, that doesn’t prevent young children from obtaining the desensitizing material. Additionally, it normalizes gun violence from a young age in a way that’s typically seen as harmless. 

Desentization leads to dehumanization which then leads to an odd comfortability with the negative aspects of our reality. The truth of the matter is that we should be focusing what we can do to stop things like this from happening rather than posting all about on social media it as if it’s a normal part of societal life.