Are we becoming too desensitised in society?

Things are becoming more and more acceptable in modern society and, in some ways it seems great, especially when one thinks of progression and becoming more open-minded. However, one question seems to hang in the hazy skies of the world, not quite visible, and yet constantly there in the subconscious of many beings: How far can acceptability go?

It sounds cliché to say that violence is becoming acceptable in society and there’s a reason for that: it’s true. In many countries around the world, teenagers don’t even blink an eye at explicit violence or aggressive behaviour on the television and many parents don’t really mind their younger children watching rated programs on T.V. Is this progression? Is this keeping an open mind?

Actually, I dare say, no. It’s not. Thinking that a child that watches certain behaviours on T.V will not absorb what he/she is watching and will not copy that behaviour is, if anything, narrow minded. Psychologists have proven that children absorb copious amounts of information. A young child’s brain is like a sponge. People who have studied human behaviour will agree that people tend to act like the people around them. People absorb behaviour, particularly in childhood, and while this behaviour can be conditioned and corrected, and might not become a problem, it can also really harm a child’s attitude and behaviour towards others.

Of course, the natural course is that children will grow up, and become part of society. If they are used to violence in childhood, they will be used to it in adulthood. People say: “oh, you’re overreacting. Television is fiction and reality is reality. Don’t be silly” but, how far is it from reality really?  It is true that television and the media are not the only ones to blame for violence in the world. Much of it is also learnt from other people. It does influence behaviour though. A classic and a very disturbing example of we learn from what we see is that of rapists. You all must agree that rapes are one of the most heinous crimes in the world. You would be shocked to know that many rapists don’t claim to have a history of a disturbed family background or suffering from some kind of mental illness but watching alot of violence and porn. Thus one might start practising what one sees before they know it.

The bottom line is not that violence is becoming more prevalent in the world; it’s becoming more acceptable. Desensitisation is occurring. For instance, in my home country, South Africa, crime is a major problem, but people are becoming used to hearing about it and often do not show the slightest emotion when they hear about horrific rapes and murders (unless of course, the person has been personally affected by the crime). Many people are not even shocked anymore. It is as if their emotions are cut off and they feel absolutely nothing for that moment. It’s like viewing the world through a thick, bullet proof and stained glass window.

I’m not saying that television is 100% to blame, I’m just saying that it can influence our thoughts and plays a part in the reality of our lives, and observing that many people in this world are becoming desensitised to violence. Where this will lead, I cannot say. I can just ask the impending questions: To what point will we become desensitised? What will become of the youth of the new-age television era? Speculating and questioning can only take one so far. Thus, we are left with one thing, as always, glimmering in the distance: Hope.


The author is a South African blogger who blogs about the ramblings and random thoughts that go through her head as an Art Student. On visiting her blog, one would find a variety of philosophical musings, art, poetry and inspiration or sometimes thoughts on the lack of inspiration. She loves thinking, writing, the outdoors, poetry, creativity and bursts of colour.