In recent years, it seems like there have been tragedies one after another. The news of bombings, mass shootings, and other similar forms of violence is constantly being broadcasted to the public; especially in the age of mass media, where it can feel like there is no escape from hearing of this violence. Thus raises the question: What effects does this constant exposure to negative news bring onto our lives? In my eyes, the biggest and most substantial consequences are the normalization of mass violence and misplaced anger against others.
While many people’s initial reactions to the news of mass violence is still one of sadness, there is also the new trend of thinking that the event was “just another one.” This desensitization to the magnitude and severity of mass violence is a threat to our sense of humanity. If we become numb to these terrible events, then it is feasible that we will begin to see something evil as normal. This altered perception of what is commonplace and what is not is extremely dangerous because when something becomes normalized, we become passive to it. And in this instance we cannot afford to be passive.
Another consequence just as severe is the scapegoating of a group that is falsely perceived as the reason for the attacks of mass violence. In the wake of a disaster, we as humans have a natural inclination to blaming others. We do this in order to cope with our anger and in hope of understanding why an atrocity happens. On these occasions, we tend to point our finger at those who are different from ourselves. This scenario creates a culture of hate. By holding on to hate, people prevent themselves from healing from the disaster and are unable to truly focus on the actual issue at hand. During the period of tribulation that follows all of these attacks of mass violence, we need to come together to rally against those who truly are perpetrating the onslaughts. We need to show them that we are resilient and that we will stand united against them.
Even though there are actions we can take by ourselves to stay vigilant, the media also has a responsibility, as they are the ones who are reporting the events. In order for news organizations to properly convey facts, they must stop dramatizing every single detail of an investigation into an attack. When there is a detail that is extremely important, yet every detail is overemphasized, it becomes difficult to tell what to believe and what to ignore. Without the media to keep us properly informed with the truth, we are more likely to make up our own narrative and blindly place blame. By no means am I saying that the media should stop reporting the details, but caution must be taken in communicating the facts.
We cannot easily control acts of mass violence occurring thousands of miles away from where we live. However, we can control how we react to them; in that regard, we must ensure that our response is one that is productive and positive. We can either accept the negative effects, and become numb to destruction and terror. Or, we can fight to change them into effects that produce an aware, unified, and preventative population.
Graphic: Anika Tsapatsaris