Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are we De-Sensitized

I was heading home from work the other day and saw flashing lights and a throng of people outside of the subway station I had to enter. My vision is really not very good, so I stopped to put on my glasses. I was curious about what the commotion was over, yet I was more concerned that whatever it was meant that my subway station was closed.

My vision cleared, I was able to see that what looked like a bus was parked in the middle of a street that had been cordoned off by police. I walked a little bit closer, my curiosity peaked, my mind settled after having seen that the subway station was, in fact, still open. So, like any rubber-necker, I approached the congestion to get a better look.

I soon wished I hadn't.

My knees went weak. My stomach turned. I felt my hands shake.

The bus was parked diagonally across the street. There were clothes scattered by the door to the bus, and take-out bags strewn across the pavement. A sizable portion of a bicycle frame was wedged under the fender over the front, passenger side wheel of the bus. One of the bike's wheels was lying about ten feet away.
There was no indication of the person who had been riding the bike, but I cannot imagine that, if alive, he or she was in anywhere near good condition.

People, especially media types and educators, like to blame video games and movies/television for desensitizing us these days. Young generations are believed to be much more violent and blood thirsty because of the images they are exposed to through entertainment. Yet, I can tell you this now: I have seen people hit by buses and cars and shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, burned, and torn apart in movies. I've chopped off heads, grenaded, shot, stabbed, and punched all sorts of people and monsters in video games.

But at merely the prospect of seeing the aftermath of such a horrible accident the other day, my legs went weak. I saw the bus and the clothes lying in the street and hesitated, not knowing if I actually wanted to look closer and take in more. I decided to. I don't know why. But I seriously had to think about it.

And I could not watch for long.

Mind you, I didn't actually see the individual who had been hit by the bus. The remnants of the food delivery and the bike were enough to shake me. On the big screen, I'd probably have even been a little bored with the image, wondering if we were going to see a flashback of the actual event. But in real life, that was all it took to rattle me.

So tell me, are we desensitized?

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