Media violence damaging for empathy


By Courtney Boyer

As I sit watching my new favorite show, How to get Away with Murder, I realize that a large majority of my favorite shows and movies are centered on some type of violence. And while I am aware that the show is violent, it doesn’t faze me in the way that it probably should.

Violence is all over the media these days. All the popular shows on television seem to have violence incorporated into them. We also see violence on the news daily. It is so common to see that it is almost a core part of our pop culture.

All this violence we are exposed to on a day-to-day basis is actually likely desensitizing us and making people less appalled with some of the gruesome things we should be fazed by.

This can have damaging effects on our relationships and our overall well-being and happiness, as when we are desensitized, we become less empathetic to the suffering of people in real life.

Psychologists have found that individuals who are exposed to a large amount of violence in the childhood and early teen years are more likely to be aggressive as they grow older.

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The fact that we are becoming less attuned to and bothered by violence is worrisome, as it has the potential to cause problems in individuals as they grow older.

We could be producing a generation of young adults who are less empathetic than past generations. This is seen by the fact that desensitization decreases the “helping behavior” in young adults.

Young adults who have been desensitized by violence are seemingly numb when they encounter people who are in need of help and assistance. In fact, studies show they are more likely to not pay as much attention to violent events that occur in real life because they are so used to seeing them occur frequently in the media.

Frequently, people are unaware that they could be becoming desensitized to violence or that these negative effects stemming from absorbing large amounts of violent media are even possible.

Desensitization can be hard to overcome and counteract, especially after an individual has been witnessing violence in the media for so long.

This is important for college students to note because it could be affecting them in ways in which they are not consciously aware. They could be lashing out or less affected by the suffering of their peers and could be more likely to cause violence.

As college students growing up exposed to this media violence, we need to be aware of this issue so we can hopefully prevent turning into hard, selfish people, or a hard, selfish generation.

Today’s culture promotes selfish behavior in a lot of ways that affect our lives in school, our relationships and our jobs. It is easy to get caught up in only doing things that benefit you.

Compassion is lacking in a lot of areas within society, and if it continues to lessen, human beings could lose what is innately good about them: the desire to help others.

The violence that is so entertaining to us could be turning us into adults who are not as compassionate when it comes to the suffering of others. In this day and age, compassion is one of the main characteristics that young adults should possess.

Young adults are responsible for the future culture and behavior of the next generation. We do not want this culture of violence to proceed or get even worse.

It is important to become aware of the process of desensitization, and realize that it could be happening to you. This can help you realize it and be able to counteract the numbness we may inherently experience when faced with violence or suffering in the real world.

Violence in the media will likely never be changed — it makes money and adds a lot to the entertainment factor of shows.

However, what we can change is how aware we are of what the violence might be doing to us, and counteracting it within ourselves as much as possible.CC

Courtney is a sophomore in LAS.?

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