Desensitisation…

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We’re living in a fast-paced world where technology is improving in leaps and bounds almost by the day. And although this has many benefits for us in terms of making our lives easier, it also brings with it certain dangerous negative consequences as well. And one of these, I feel, is the desensitisation it can lead to. What I mean by that is all of the violence and horror we are exposed to through the media, facilitated by the advances in technology.

There have always been evil people in the world doing evil things, but in the past it would take a while for news of massacres and bloodshed to spread, and then it would be broadcast mainly via print media only. People would read about it, not see it happen. Nowadays though, such things occur and we literally watch as they unfold. We see the bombs falling and the fighting happening and all the dead bodies piling up. Videos of these events are uploaded mere moments after they happen and sometimes there’s even live streaming of these things.

There are two such events of widespread bloodshed that I can recall that messed me up: the 2008 attack on Gaza, and more recently the carnage that took place in Egypt last year. Seeing the images of all the people slain on those occasions did have an affect on me at the time. But we see and hear of acts of violence so often in the media that we soon become numb to it, and it no longer really has the impact on us that it should. It’s almost as if technology and the media are snatching away our humanity, and we are left with hearts that are cold and unfeeling. But I believe there is a reason for us becoming so emotionally detached. I feel in some way that this is a mechanism that we use to allow us to cope. We simply shut out and disregard the evil that’s happening out there, because if we truly allowed it to affect our hearts the way it should each time we hear of it, we would be emotional wrecks and wouldn’t really be able to function properly.

These thoughts have been on my mind for quite a while now, but recently two things happened which drove it home. The first happened a few days ago. I was browsing a forum and came across a link posted by one of the users. He didn’t say what it was about and so I clicked it out of curiosity more than anything else. It turned out to be a video of a gun battle that took place in Syria. And in that video, I watched how one of the mujaahideen ran across a street, how he was shot down and fell to the floor, how he was pulled away by one of the other fighters, and how he lost his life and became shaheed (in-sha Allah). I watched as someone died. And the disturbing thing about that video… was the lack of disturbance I felt while watching it. I barely felt any emotion at all. We see people dying and being killed in games and on TV all the time – and this seemed so similar to that. It’s almost like it didn’t register in my brain, that this wasn’t just another scene from a movie; that this person wasn’t just going to get up and be ok after the camera was switched off.

And then just yesterday, in real life, I heard someone being murdered. I heard the shots being fired, I heard tyres screeching as a car pulled away, and I heard a woman screaming. I saw people rushing towards the scene and I saw them all crowding around the dead body. Literally just twenty metres or so from where I had been standing, someone had been killed. And again, the same thing: other than a little twinge of sadness, there was barely any emotion stirred up inside me. And it seemed the same for the other people. It seemed that this was just another bit of sensation and excitement. Some were talking animatedly, others taking pictures on their phones, probably to share via social media; and as I was leaving the scene, someone even smiled at me and made a flippant remark about it. But soon thereafter, people just left and went back to work. . The whole thing reminded me of this line of poetry: “And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Maybe I’m the only one. Maybe it’s just me that feels this way. But if there are others out there that feel the same way, then perhaps we need to re-evaluate the impact that technology and the media is having on us, and our use of it. Maybe being so connected all the time isn’t such a good thing after all.

May Allah ta’ala bring peace and an end to violence and bloodshed in this crazy world, and may He grant us to be emotionally alive to the suffering of our brethren, ameen.

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2 Responses to Desensitisation…

  1. alfarisah313 says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    Good article, I’m sure many can relate to it.

    Let us look into the reason we are being de-sensitized. It is certainly not because of the great amount of coverage these terrible events get- why then do the mujahideen, who are in the battlefield and witness the most bloodshed, still cry when a child dies? Why do they become over-whelmed with the oppression that is happening to the Muslims? Why does the cries of the prisoners break their heart? Why??

    The answer is because they have hearts that are clean and soft and filled with the Love and Fear of Allah. They have left their homes and families and come to fight in the Path of Allah out of love and mercy for their suffering brothers and sisters. And even thought they spend years on the front line, these feelings of empathy and compassion remain.

    The media may play some role in us being de-sensitized, but at the end of the day, it is our hearts and actions that decide who we are.

    Action is of great importance- if we act in some way every time we see such incidents, our hearts will remain alive and sensitive. Even if we cannot take physical action (and if we can, then along with that) we should cry to Allah everytime we see something happening to our brothers and sisters. We should beg Allah to help them and ask Him to forgive us for not going out in His Path, and through His Mercy, He will allow us to retain that humanity of ours.

  2. Admin says:

    Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullah

    Jazakillahu khair for the comment.

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