The seeds of sensitivity
It’s a question that has been asked by each successive generation, is society becoming increasingly desensitized?
Some would argue it is not a question of becoming; society has been on a downward slide for centuries. But there’s no question the 21st century has ushered in a whole new low on the sensitivity scale.
Look at entertainment. In its day the Wizard of Oz genuinely scared people with images of the wicked witch and flying monkeys. By today’s standards it’s nothing more than a children’s movie.
And you don’t have to go back too far to find a time when the glimpse of a breast in a movie was unheard of. Today, every second celebrity is flashing their unmentionables to whoever wants to look. And a sex tape is less a scandal and more of a quick and easy way to jumpstart a career.
So what makes the current age so much worse than the one before? Technology! That brings us to the next question. While society has become more technologically advanced, is it more civilized?
The answer to that will be a topic for debate for generations, but on first glance the answer would have to be an unequivocal NO!
The advent of television (in the 1940s and 50s) exponentially increased the speed at which society would begin its love affair with the horrors of the world, and the most graphic images the average person could stomach.
News from the Second World War was limited mainly to photographs in magazines and short reports before the feature at movie theatres.
Jump ahead 25 years; television brought instantaneous reports of the Vietnam War into the living and dining rooms of a nation.
Today the Internet, G3 cellular networks and digital video cameras have taken the most gruesome events and made them almost boring. They are simply not graphic enough to satiate the masses.
There are sites on the Internet dedicated to crashes and the popularity of these sites demonstrates a growing fascination with death and destruction. The gruesome and macabre have become fashionable.
The advancements in technology have realized some wonderful breakthroughs for society, but they have also eroded the social structure.
Privacy has taken a backseat to cellphone cameras and video recorders, which capture daily life and plaster it over the Internet.
A decade ago when you came upon an accident you were merely a witness.
Today all you need do is ask any emergency services responder what happens at accidents and fatalities.
Many will tell stories of bystanders and “rubber-neckers” with cameras and cellphones in hand capturing the image of the mangled body as it’s cut out of the wreckage. In short order, those images make their way to the World Wide Web. Is it the fault of technology? No! The problem is with the application of these electronic toys. Technology is merely the medium that has allowed a further erosion of compassion and respect for our fellow human beings.
We are slowly becoming a society where a degree of willful social autism is the norm. Basically what that means is the addiction to technology has allowed people to isolate themselves until they lose all touch with what little empathy and conscience they may have had.
Technology isolates and erodes social interactions. Without those social interactions it is easy to see that body being cut out of the wreckage as mere meat. It may sound cold and it is. People have to remember that was someone’s father, brother, son or friend.
But discarding technology is not the answer. The secret is not using technology as the foundation of our social interactions. Humans are social beings; human contact in its physical form is the foundation of that social structure and the basis of compassion and respect.
By sharing a warm moment with a friend or shaking the hand of a stranger the seeds of compassion and sensitivity can begin to germinate. Otherwise don’t be shocked when graphic and disturbing images fail to shock.