January 16, 2018

Column: Society has become desensitized to shooting through the media

By Catelyn Di Leva

Executive Opinion Editor

There have been a total of 307 mass shooting in America as of 2017. It seems to be that in our society, the American flag is sailing at half-mast more often than not. The flag raised at half-mast, which symbolizes tragedy, shows that these horrific acts have consumed our country. As violent events become more common, they become less covered by media and in the news, which is a huge shift from just 18 years ago, when Columbine, the first major school shooting and mass shooting, occurred.

In modern America, when events like these occur, they simply go down as another gun violence related event and then are forgotten about after a few days; our society desensitized to these tragic events.

According to the New York Times and psychologist Anita Gadhia-Smith, living in a digitally linked world where broadcasts of violence are instantaneous means that many of us are becoming un-phased by these situations. Since we are exposed to, as well as experience, copious amounts of violence, many people have made it a habit to quickly say that “the victims are in our prayers” or “praying for their families.” While the thought counts, the thought is not enough and we need to do more than pray.

It is important to mourn and grieve the losses after each one of these tragedies, and yet often it seems as if they are not recognized sufficiently in the media. This is the result of a society that has grown too accustomed to the idea of mass shootings and massacres. These stories can also be drowned in the myriad of other news crowding media outlets, leaving only a select few that happen to be close to the situation with any information.

According to a team of researchers at the University of Bradford in England, exposure to violent imagery on social media can cause symptoms that are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Although we are lucky to be instantly notified of shootings when they occur through social media and online news, exposure to these tragedies has caused our mental health to deteriorate.

This desensitization is also a result of society and the media’s tendency to compare the scope of the tragedy with past events. While this comparison is not often publicized, it is difficult to not compare the situation at hand with tragedies similar to it that have happened many times in the past.

According to the Washington Post, a public mass shooting is defined as an incident where four or more people are killed or injured by gunfire. It almost seems that the number of deaths and injuries given to these shootings decides whether or not it is given a large portion of screen time and media coverage before the public moves on to the rest of the world events.

The  desensitization of this violence does not erase the tragedy of these mass shootings, but it has reduced the shock value. In the current political and global climate, it has become easy to take these shootings as commonplace, despite how tragic the events can eventually be.

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