Digitally Numb: How Media And Video Games Desensitize Us


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

“What are you looking at?”

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!



Kotaku had a random post this week (12/10/09) entitled Pokémon Teaches Your Children To Worship Satan. The post was based on the video below:

The Kotaku post seems clear in its attempt at humor (inadvertently mocking Christianity in the process). Nothing new for the Internet. However, I think that there is depth and truth to this video. Let’s discuss!


Exegesis – critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, esp. of the Bible.


Eisegesis – an interpretation, esp. of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text.

The preacher/ pastor is preaching based upon his own bias versus actually using scripture to back his claims. Watching this video reminds me of the Christian hysteria over Harry Potter being Satanically inspired. This essentially becomes a conversation over fantasy versus reality. In the case of Harry Potter, examination of the author’s worldview proved that the author had no underlying motives (she wasn’t a Wiccan in disguise) and was instead writing a work of fantasy based fiction.

2. Good points are made on gaming leading to desensitizing kids/ adults. Although, the type of desensitization the pastor uses as an example is a bit extreme.

3. What you take in (your intake) does affect you mentally/ spiritually.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

One of the key thoughts behind JohnnyBGamer is:

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

1 Corinthians 6:12 (The Message)

Our intake, whatever form of media, needs to be carefully considered. I know personally that what I listen to (music wise) can effect my mood for the day.

What are your thoughts on the pastor, fantasy vs. reality, Pokémon, and intake?

Comment below!