While growing up there have been a countless number of incidents where I have been exposed to images or messages of violence and war. The ways that this exposure has occurred, and still occurs, is through the many outlets that our society is able to reach the population. The main sources where I, and many others, am subjected to this violence ranges from video games and television violence to the actions of those around us and the ways that our media reports past/present events. Literature and music have also proven to be sources of violence and war through the use of language. Through all of the ways that society presents these images and messages, their effects have personally been unavoidable. The ways that all of these outlets come together have combined to make a lasting impression on the way that I view violence, and have shaped the evolution of society itself.
One of the ways that violence first had an impression on me was through television. It is hard to turn on the television, whether it is an adult movie or a TV show targeted towards kids, and not be subjected to some sort of violence. Since the television has come into existence, the content that it has shown has become more and more graphically violent. This is because people have become accustomed to what they are seeing and there is a sense of desensitization that is happening.
Because of the frequency of the violent images that are shown on the television, the desensitization goes unnoticed to most people. Examples of this commonplace television violence is the shown in many of the current televised shows for children now include themes that are based around violence. I know that when I was a child the show “Power Rangers,” although containing a violent theme, was very popular among kids my age. There were never-ending fight scenes that glorified the violent situations. It never seemed to cross anyone’s mind how the images of violence could have a negative effect on them or desensitize them in any way. It was just a normal part of life that all of my friends were also involved in.
Another source of violence in our society that has become more prevalent in recent history is video games. There were many violent video games available when I was younger, but with technology advancing every year, the genuineness in the games is rapidly increasing. Video games now have the ability to make what is make believe seem exceptionally real, most of the time to the point where a real video versus a game become undistinguishable. With all of this violence, notable in games that center around killing or committing crimes, kids and even teenagers are being desensitized into thinking that hurting or killing people is normal. There are many studies that go into detail about the effects of video game violence on people, and the topic can go into much greater depth. The point that I am making is that violent video games are about as common in a child’s room as milk is in a refrigerator. Because these games are as ordinary as they have ever been, they further contribute to the nonchalant feelings that our society is gradually beginning to have towards violence.
Many of the same violent messages are incorporated in the lyrics that are in so many of the songs that we hear today. The rap and pop that currently comes on the radio contains many examples of violent messages that are being presented to people in society as being normal. Eminem, for instance writes songs containing lyrics that contain violent themes such as killing his wife or his mother. When kids, or anyone else for that matter, hear lyrics that constantly insinuate violence, it just becomes a normal part of life. The violence that enters people’s lives through music is just another way that society has begun to desensitize us over time. Whether or not the music actually affects the actions during our everyday lives or calls into question our moral standards, it is true that it adds to the frequency that violent images and messages are a part of our lives. This only adds to the casual tendencies that many of us are beginning to have about violence.
Perhaps the most influential factor that makes the images and messages of war/violence so strong are some of the actions that we see others make throughout our everyday lives. Unfortunately, many of these actions that we are influenced by are carried out by those in governmental positions. A major occurrence in history that provides an example of this and has impacted many has been the Holocaust. Every student at one time or another has studied World War II and has gone over the sad events of the Holocaust. This is one of the best examples to date of violence in the world, and provides a lot of exposure to most students in the US. For me, this is the prime example of violence at its worst has made me wonder over the years why something like this would ever happen. Another governmental action that occurs in everyday life is the death penalty. Even though there is some justification for killing of criminals, it is still an act of violence that is brought upon other human beings. In this instance it seems like the way that our government decides to punish violence is just retaliation with more violence.
This sends a message that it is okay to punish and retaliate with violence when somebody else commits a crime. I can personally say that I am receiving a message from the government that is contradictory in some senses because we are retaliating the crimes of our criminals with further violence. When this happens I only get mixed messages and feel like violence is being used as a means of “making the situation better.”In addition to all of the movies, TV shows, governmental actions, etc. that are in everyday life, there are also images of war and violence that are presented through the media in the form of news. Due to the war that we are having in Iraq, the amount of coverage that is presently designated to the topic of war is as high as it has ever been. Whether it is on TV or on talk radio, there is seemingly nonstop coverage designated to the “war on terror.”
The alarming thing about the way that the Iraqi war is being covered is the way that the news is presented. While we are being constantly fed news about the war, it is done so in a way that misleads us. It seems that all of the focus is targeted towards “the war on terror.” It seems awfully convenient that there isn’t as much coverage on the many deaths of our young soldiers in combat. It also seems ironic that our society contains so many violent references, yet they are avoided in the news reports. I feel like this is misleading because the media is making war out to be better than it is. The news coverage is a way of desensitizing the public to be used to the war experience, yet not become as affected about the violence that is actually taking place.
The experience of war that I was previously exposed to was changed by the books “The Things They Carried” and “Dien Cau Dau.” I feel like these novels clearly exemplified what the real war experience was like and it became clear to me how it differed from my previous assumptions. These books each worked in their own ways, whether through poetry or storytelling, to reveal the unfortunate truths of war, regardless of what the current media leads us to believe. I now have a better appreciation for those in war and am also aware of the atrocities that war can bring.
In the society that we currently live in, images of war and violence can be absorbed through various ways which include but are not limited to music, TV, the media, our government, literature, and video games. Throughout as much of my life as I can remember, these messages have very much been a part of my life. All of these images and messages combine to produce a desensitizing effect on the people in society today. As all of the sources of war and violence come together, I have noticed that violence is just another normal part of life itself. Gradually over time, my view on violence has softened, mainly because of its widespread exposure in my everyday life. If current trends continue, I believe that violence in society will continue to climb, but hope that its prevalence in society will never get to the point where it is beyond control.