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The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Dangerous desensitization

While I sit in class, my phone buzzes and I see a notification: “One killed, at least 10 injured in shooting after Chiefs Super Bowl parade.” I am hit with an immediate feeling of shock and sadness. But too quickly those feelings go away and I return to my regular activities. While devastating, this is not the first time in 2024 when I have heard news of a mass shooting; this is our norm.

As of Feb. 15, only the 46th day of the year, almost 5,000 Americans had died of gun violence in the United States, according to ABC News. Eighteen days later, the U.S. reached a whopping 84 mass shootings since the beginning of the year, meaning that there had been more shootings than days in the year.

These numbers are tremendous, yet sadly, they have little lasting impact on our lives. The frequency of these shootings and instances of gun violence have led us to become desensitized. Our constant exposure to the issue has caused a lack of action, thus leading the problem of gun violence to persist.

When society doesn’t act on an issue, it is destined to continue in the same direction or get worse.

In the 21st century, tragic news is spread easily because of technology. However, as humans, we can only handle so much traumatic news. With the Israel-Hamas war, the Russia-Ukraine war and many other pressing issues in the world, we cannot process more trauma. Eventually humans become emotionally overwhelmed.

When I have an influx of depressing news stories and then I see a story about a shooting, I often just avoid it because I do not have the emotional capacity to read another sad story. When we put stories like these to the side, we are ignoring and avoiding the issue, only allowing these significant issues to continue.

According to the director of Traumatology Institute and a professor of social work at Tulane University Charles Figley, desensitization is a form of adaptation. Without realizing, people use desensitizations as a defense mechanism and means of adjusting to the situation in which they live.

“People adapt, they adjust, they try to look on the bright side,” Figley said in an article by the Cut. “…We’re still shocked, but we watch the people in the communities where this has happened, and we see their shock, their unpreparedness. We think, ‘there is nothing they could have done.”

The more shootings that happen, the more we expect them to happen. So when they continue to occur, we aren’t as shocked or upset as when they happened less frequently. The frequency of these events leads us to believe that they are out of our control, which causes us to further avoid stories about them when we see them online.

So how should we balance caring about such upsetting events without being emotionally overwhelmed. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. But what I do believe is that we must be aware of our emotional reactions and not just become numb to the world around us.

In order to combat this issue, we must talk about difficult issues in the world, rather than ignore them. As a society we need to understand that while certain incidents may be out of our control, we have the power to help curb the trend of gun violence by continuing to raise awareness on the issue.

However, if we are oblivious to how we react to stories of mass shootings and don’t act when they happen, our desensitization to the topic will grow and issues of gun violence will be destined to continue on the same path.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Schwartz
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor
Sophie is excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She is looking forward to helping the new staff and designing creative spreads. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Sophie plays on the JDS Girls Tennis team, is a team leader for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and participates in the STARS program and the AJC teen initiative. In addition, she loves playing with her dog, cooking, going to the beach, and hanging out with her family and friends. She can’t wait to work with her co-editor to produce an amazing opinion section.  

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