We are becoming desensitized to violence in the news and media

Illustration by Aimi Dickel

 

The flag in front of Buntrock has been at half-staff for the majority of our semester. It feels like our country and our world experience tragedy after tragedy at an increasing speed. Some horrific events are extremely close and others are so far away that it is hard to imagine the effects. There have been mass shootings, hate crimes and police murders continuously throughout this year. Not to mention the continued pain and death of COVID-19. 

Just this morning I woke up and scrolled through Instagram. The first four posts were a text about persistent anti-trans legislation, a photo of Anthony Toledo, numbers on COVID-19 deaths in India and a post about antisemitism in New York. The list goes on and on. I scrolled for about 15 minutes and then went to brush my teeth and finish my English essay.

How am I not incapacitated for the rest of the day after reading about traumatic events? I look at this type of news, either on a newspaper app or on Instagram for hours every day. And then I just go back to the activities of my life. If I always let all of the news fully sink in, I don’t think I would be able to get out of bed.

How do we recognize injustice and grief in our world in a way that isn’t all-consuming and debilitating? How do we hold the weight of it all in a way that will be productive? How do we make sure that we’re not completely desensitized to constant death and oppression? How do we care for our mental health and wellbeing as a part of this?

The weight of these big unanswerable questions make everyday life feel insignificant. Does it really matter if I finish my homework about some dead ancient philosopher when the world around me is burning?

I think reconciling with the weight of current life is all about mixture — of joy and grief, empowerment and frustration, self-reflection and broad thinking. We don’t have any answers, but we still need to keep looking for them. When people die, we need to recognize that what was lost was a real life — whether our recognition is big or small. Maybe I rollerskate in honor of my friend’s mother who died. Or I organize for Black Lives Matter. Or I donate to India Relief. None of these actions will fully solve the problems of our world, but I think that we need to consider two things: First, we cannot let any injustice go unacknowledged. Second, we cannot stop trying to put joy and justice into our broken world — in whatever way our capacity allows.

peacor2@stolaf.edu

Caroline Peacore ’24 is from Pasadena, CA.

Her major is undeclared.