You hear about it in the news, read about it online, or in the case of Drexel University students, you get an alert text notifying you, but do you actually pay attention? There have been thousands of assaults and and robberies reported within the past year — just in Philadelphia. Statistics of crime rates throughout America are even more disturbing. I would like to think that the idea of an unprecedented amount of crime would be shocking, at the least. However, it has come to a point where it is not to many people. That is the first sign of desensitivity.
Crime has become so prevalent within our lives that the line has blurred between what affects us and what leaves us unphased. Desensitization occurs through repeated exposure which leads to a decreased emotional response to a negative catalyst. For Drexel students in particular, with every alert text and the countless police sirens we hear daily throughout campus, we seem to tune out our surroundings because the idea that it’ll just happen and we can’t do anything about it has set in. As phones go off with alert texts indicating a robbery and assault near campus, the amount of groans or “oh, just Drexel alert again” are predictable. Consideration and worry have disappeared and have been replaced by insensitivity.
The perception of crime, in general, has drastically changed due to its representation within the media, which is accompanied by the impression of normalcy and that crime is acceptable. The empathy we may have felt has now diminished because of how often is it portrayed on television or the constant news updates. Viewing crime so often within the media has us confused between facts and fiction. We seem to have forgotten that our reality is not a movie and that the rampant amount of crime needs attention, not ignorance.
Within the media, there is a phenomenon known as the cultivation theory which depicts how long term immersion within a media environment leads to the cultivation of shared beliefs about the world around us. This is specifically focused on how violent television programming affects the attitudes and actions of the American public. One focus of this theory is how it affects perceptions of social reality. Desensitization towards violence and crime is directly correlated to this theory as we merge what is reality and what we view on television into one idea as a coping mechanism because we don’t want to accept the world as being a bad place. We desensitize ourselves to alleviate the fear we begin to feel once we think of the world as being much worse and scarier than we perceived before.
This is not only in the case of Drexel, however. As a country, we have experienced mass shooting upon mass shooting. As the number rises, our concern declines. The irony comes in because I would expect there to be more attention paid to these unparalleled statistics, yet they seem to have been reduced to just “annoying sirens and texts.” The numbers seem to instigate no apprehension but rather are exterminating the last bits of attention we gave any type of crime that occurred around us.
Maybe it’s the sheer number that has altered our perspective, the media representation, or the fact that we think we can’t do anything either way. Reasons aside, this desensitization will not help alleviate it at all. We may tune out the police sirens, be unaffected by the news and walk around as if we are invincible, but it is time to start paying attention again.
No matter if statistics are low or at an all-time high, it’s still one crime perpetuating more and increasing the numbers. Our lack of concern does not benefit us in an attempt to feel safe. It may be a defense mechanism but the reality remains that our regard can aid in assuaging an issue that has gotten out of hand. It is time we stop ignoring and actually start noticing the statistics of our surroundings.