Sharon Wu | The Poly Post

The Russian invasion of Ukraine reveals desensitization in our nation

By Matthew Acosta, Mar. 8, 2022

For students of my generation, the day is consumed with school, work and spending time on our phones. But while scrolling through social media, I find myself scrolling past the news and details of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

On Feb. 24, Russia began its war on Ukraine in an attempt to gain control of the country. The attack is destroying cities and endangering Ukrainian residents.

Despite this ongoing tragedy, every time that I open my phone all I see are jokes, memes and other forms of entertainment made from this terrible tragedy.

The desensitization of our generation is rooted in the violence that we have witnessed from a distance since childhood. This goes back to watching the events of 9/11 unfold on television followed by years of war along with the violent crime and mass shootings that occur in our own country. It has become a difficult task to find true empathy with the new violent events that happen.

Watching many people make memes and jokes is just evidence of how desensitized we are to these tragedies.

Sharon Wu | The Poly Post

This war has caused Finland and Sweden to reconsider their opportunity to join NATO as Russia has not only posed a threat to Ukraine, but to the rest of the world.

Since I was born, the U.S. has always been at war in another country, most notably with Afghanistan for the entirety of my life.

I can still remember around the age of 7 or 8 in my grandparent’s house watching and re-watching 9/11 footage on the anniversary of the event. That year and every year after, the footage has lived on in my head.

As we grow older these violent occurrences continue to happen whether it was something caused by political strife or a natural disaster.

Year after year the normalcy of violence continues to reduce the impact of tragedy. Jaime Sebastian F. Galan Jimenez and Omar Sanchez-Armass Cappello, two psychologists at the University of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, conducted studies of younger adults and concluded that this desensitization phenomenon is well supported.

Jimenez and Cappello measured the amount of desensitization among 402 volunteers and distinguished the three age categories through their views of violence. They were able to find desensitization through asking participants if they had ever committed a crime or had admitted to one in order to find a correlation to those who have done or witnessed crime and desensitization.

Their study then displayed that desensitization decreased as the age range advanced, showcasing the higher level of desensitized individuals in the younger age bracket.

“Desensitization to violence seems to produce the belief that violence is trivial and inevitable, even capable of generating positive emotions,” wrote Jimenez and Cappello.

The access to information, factual or not, has made it easier for people to see what is going on in the world every second of every day which has developed a societal numbness. This complacency translates as ignorance and dismissal.

Constantly watching the world at its worst is dulling this generation’s sense of injustice, and it becomes easier to either like a meme or simply scroll past the tragedy.

The only time something is taken seriously is when the violence reaches our doorstep rather than that of other nations. The illusion that these events are in a distant place increases the dissonance young adults in America feel when considering the issues.

The lack of meaningful dialogue about the war in Ukraine hinders our ability to sympathize with victims. Apathy is a symptom of desensitization.

If you want to support those fleeing Ukraine, please donate to UK for UNHCR and for other ways to donate and help visit the LA Times. To find out more information on the history behind the war in Ukraine, consider watching Vox’s “Putin’s war on Ukraine explained,” video.

If you ever find yourself feeling emotional or physical symptoms caused by stress, do not delay in reaching out for help from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS).

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