Last week, I wrote a series on video game addiction. If you haven’t had a chance to read my posts, you can catch up on them here, here and here. This week, I would like to shift gears and talk about another video game related topic, desensitization.
Desensitize – To make a person emotionally insensitive or unresponsive, as by long exposure or repeated shocks. – American Heritage Medical Dictionary
Sometime in the first grade, Jacob, the next door neighbor boy, invited me and a few other neighbors over for a sleep over birthday party. I remember playing with whatever toys he had received that evening and then watching the movie Aliens. Up until that point, my parents had protected me pretty well. Sure the other neighbor boys, Jeff and Joe, had introduced me to the Jaws film series–which made me seriously afraid of swimming pools and water, especially water.–. Aliens, though, was on a whole new level. Though my memory is a bit fuzzy, I clearly remember heads exploding into pudding-like goo, aliens decimating humans and a woman fighting to protect a little girl. To make matters worse, after watching the movie we slept outside, in a tent, in the backyard. Away from parents and terrified, one of the neighbor boys, Jeff, left at 2am and walked home. I struggled to sleep that night.
The media that we consume, whether it is of the interactive nature such as video games or more passive such as a film, serves to desensitize our very souls. With each repeated gameplay session/ viewing, we further and further become numb to that which at one time terrified us. The soul begins to develop callouses as a learning and as a defense mechanism. Subconsciously and consciously, we then seek out the next thrill, the next experience that will only ultimately numb us from whatever level of violence or emotion we just encountered.
This week, I’d like to talk a bit more on this subject of desensitizing our souls. To share my personal stories, those of others and examine whether this innocence lost is simply a rite of passage or somehow a good thing. I invite you to join me in this conversation in either the comments section below, Twitter or via email.
Note (3/21/12): I would like to take a bit more time to think through this topic. Expect a re-visit sometime in the near future. Again, if you have any thoughts please feel free to share. Thanks!