Waking up to the news pouring out of Las Vegas made me sick. Images and video of the chaos and panic streamed across my TV. As a parent, I put my kids in those peoples shoes. I also can’t help but place my husband and me, friends and various family members there in my mind as well. It’s terrifying. However, I’m realizing today for the first time how desensitized I am to the whole thing and that beyond saying a prayer for the families and victims I’ll continue on with my day with only fleeting thoughts of this tragedy, as it’s already being tucked away in the vault of my mind with the countless other incidents just like it that I’ve literally grown up seeing on the news.
The first shooting I clearly remember was Columbine in April of 1999. I was 11. From there, things just seemed to get worse in this world. 9/11 happened 2 years later. My second year of college would end with the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. In 2009 even our own military wasn’t safe as the events of Fort Hood came across the airwaves. I became afraid to go on a date and see a movie after the movie theater shooting in Aurora Colorado in 2012. I wept uncontrollably in my office a few months later when the news of the Sandy Hook shooting broke in December of that same year. All I could do was place my sweet 2-year-old in the shoes of those children that day. Then in 2015, I was left feeling unsafe in my own church, a place of hope and serenity for me, after the attack during a bible study in Charleston. These are the shootings that stick out clearly in my memory. These are the ones that affected me in some way and caused me to rethink my actions when it came to my safety, and the safety of others I love when out in public spaces.
(There are dozens more between all these events that claimed the lives of many innocent victims. I do not mean to offend by not mentioning them specifically here, as I’m going off of memory and thinking of instances that struck a deep chord with me.)
As the days go on and more information is released I expect to see and hear all the things you associate with these types of events. People reporting, posting and talking about prayer, gun control, mental illness, terrorism, etc. We’ll wonder about motives, what could have been done to prevent this, what to do in the future so this doesn’t happen again. It will be a whirlwind and something that will be going down in the history books as the worst mass shooting in American history, as the death toll rises and the number of injuries continues to grow.
After every one of these shootings, I’m left feeling less and less “human” when it comes to my emotions and the tragedies shown on the news. I’m naturally empathetic and feel things deeply, but I’m finding that with each tragedy we are exposed to (it feels like a daily thing anymore) I’m becoming less of those things and number. The constant media coverage available is overwhelming. It’s everywhere. The constant connectivity from social media doesn’t allow you a moment’s peace to think and process situations like these as we did in the past. I see the same story and images being shared over and over again on Facebook and Twitter. Desensitizing me more and more with each viewing. Because of this “normalcy” and constant viewing, I’m beginning to think things aren’t getting better, and are in fact getting worse. As a society we’re getting used to these happenings and while they still evoke reactions from of, the actual shock isn’t there like it used to be.
While constant coverage and social media rage, I’m left wondering how this is going to affect not only me but how my children view the world. I know there are things my 6-year-old has been exposed to that I hadn’t been at that age. In all truth, her childhood is already vastly different than mine was. So, if I’m starting to see a shift in my emotions when it comes to these events, what will she feel as she gets older, if anything? The technology we have today is phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, but being constantly “plugged in” can’t be the greatest thing for the human race. We’re forgetting how to connect one on one with people on a personal level. We’re desensitizing ourselves to the cruelty in our world, and human interaction as a whole is on the decline. I think we should learn from these tragedies and get back in contact with our humanity for the good. We need to be more compassionate about others we share this world with. Things need to be done in love, not hate. Maybe if these things, – love and compassion – became the forefront of humanities way of thinking, this numbness would go away. Only time will tell though.