Karen and I had a brief but interesting conversation yesterday about how desensitized we have become as a society. When you consider the amount of murder, war, violence and criminal acts that we are exposed to on a daily basis online and on the tube, it certainly must have an impact on our emotional response to those same acts when they occur in real life. That’s why I’m so opposed to violent video games.
My niece and nephew are being reared as I was – with no television. Believe it or not, it isn’t a terrible as it sounds. I didn’t really even know what I was “missing” and neither do they. There are times when they are around a computer and have the chance to watch a downloaded video or other form of online entertainment, but it’s few and far between.
A few years ago, I took Finding Nemo to my mom’s house to show the kiddies while we celebrated the holidays. I was surprised at the fearful reaction of both of them and even my sister when the shark tries to eat Nemo’s father. What caused virtually no response in me had quite the opposite effect on them.
There have been many videos that I have watched online that I would have been better off to have never witnessed, but morbid curiosity always won. I watched a video of the beheading of Nick Berg even though I really didn’t want to initially. Although I had a visceral reaction to it and felt literally sick, I convinced myself that it was important to know what kind of evil lurks in the world.
This morning, I ran across a video that is making the rounds of a young Iraqi woman being stoned for loving someone that her religion didn’t approve of – a common occurrence in the Muslim community. The sickening image of her bloodied, half-naked body lying on the ground surrounded by screaming men didn’t enrage me as much as the callous people snapping pictures and photos with their cellphones. However, doesn’t watching it make me somewhat of an accomplice to their indifference?
Violence breeds violence. Already there are reports that revenge killings have taken place because of this girl’s murder. Our own country is guilty of similar acts under the name of promoting democracy and fighting terrorism, so should we really be surprised when stories of such violence spring from a war-torn country?
Does becoming aware of violence in the world through the use of cellphones and video enable us to act against it, or does it simply promote more violence? Is there a difference between watching brutality in real-life footage and enveloping ourselves in savagery though video games?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m thankful that my niece and nephew still look at the world through unclouded, innocent eyes.