Today we circulate graphic images and inhumane videos in hopes of awakening a part of the human mind that has yet to be desensitized.
Between 70-80 A.D., ancient Rome has built an open-air venue famously known as the Colosseum for entertainment. You can hardly imagine the Colosseum without the association of brutal, vicious, and masculine gladiators fighting wild animals or one another to death in front of a raging chanting crowd of 50,000 people. The gladiators’ combats played a key role in desensitizing the Roman public by normalizing violence as a form of entertainment; it became a part of their culture. It’s no wonder they had one of the largest empires in history; death and violence became the norm to them as it is becoming today. To desensitize a person or the public is to gradually normalize an act by exposure without actually experiencing it (in the beginning, at least).
In the present day, we no longer go to colosseums to see violence; we open our smartphones. We watch teenagers beating up an old man on YouTube; we see a woman being degraded on Twitter; and we open Instagram to see a photo of a child being strangled by an outraged father in an act of revenge against the mother. Later we turn on our TV only to see another bombing in war-torn countries. In movies, another hero killing the villain as we cheer them on, and in music videos as the singer brags about his guns.
In a study conducted by Brad J. Bushman of the University of Michigan and VU University Amsterdam, and Craig A. Anderson of Iowa State University, aimed to prove that exposure to violent media reduces aid offered to people in pain. In one of their studies, they had one group of people attend violent movies, and one group attend non-violent movies. Upon exiting the theater, the subjects saw a woman with an injured ankle, struggling to pick up her crutches. According to the study, “Participants who had just watched a violent movie took longer to help than participants who didn’t. Their findings suggest that violence in media makes people numb to the pain and suffering of others.” – The Baltimore Zeitgeist
This repetitive and constant, exposure has normalized violence not only to adults, as in the Colosseum, but to children as well. When we’re notified by our apps that a solider has died or a couple has died in a car accident we simply swipe it off the screen, since we’ve already seen that multiple times on our smartphones or TV this week, right? It’s no longer an issue, we simply disregard it. Today we circulate graphic images and videos of inhumane actions in hopes of awaking a part of the human mind that has yet to be desensitized. The media is our worldwide modern Colosseum.
- The Study: http://public.psych.iastate.edu/caa/abstracts/2005-2009/09BA.pdf
- The Blog that summarized the study/ Baltimore Zeitgeist: https://baltimorezeitgeist.com/2015/12/07/syria-how-technology-and-social-media-has-desensitized-america/