DEN's International Student ConferenceGlobal

Our Unexpected Numbness to Tragedy

Berlin attack: 9 Dead 50 Injured, read my phone notification but no major shock wave swept through me. I am not surprised; I am concerned, especially because a good friend of mine is there, so I check her Snapchat to know where in the world she is. I had once mentioned last year on a night out with my friends that how the best way to know where a friend was to check their Snapchat. This joke is surprisingly accurate.

She had just flown home to Düsseldorf but I sent her a Whatsapp to see how she is doing. She expresses her fear and anxiety; this seems natural given she is German and she had just spent the weekend in Berlin.

We have traveled a lot together and whenever we are in a Christmas market she never fails to mention how they originated in Germany, she always seemed proud.

I ponder this for a few minutes and head to the living room as I decide what to watch on Netflix next. A text from a friend distracts me until my little sister joins me in the living room. She sits down and I think of what to talk to her about. I ask her if she has heard about Berlin, thinking she hasn’t since she just woke up from a nap. She, a full-fledged millennium knows already, and tells me how the Russian ambassador in Turkey was shot and killed. Now I am shocked, not only by these two huge stories but more so about how my sister and I just accept this and go about our days within minutes. She tells me how there is a video of the off duty policeman right before he shot the ambassador, declaring it protest for the atrocities happening in Aleppo.

She mentions how strange this all is because the pictures and video from the shooting seem like they came out of a movie. I told her I didn’t want to see the video, in attempt to retain some sort of moral prudence from bygone days. She reassures me the video doesn’t contain the shooting of the ambassador, but the seconds before the incident. I watched it, but now I feel guilty of entering this culturally acceptable slippery slope

“Are we so dull and disconnected that nothing can truly shock us?!” I scolded my sister. “Maybe we are too connected”, she replies. I get her point but give her a funny look as she is connected to her phone through her headphones listening to a satirical YouTube channel whilst talking to me. Total millennium. She smiles but defends her point “We just hear and know too much.” I counter, “We do not take in information, we are spoon-fed small editorial articles with clique batting titles and we are fine with that. She replies, “Not everyone is fine with it, it depends on the person, some do something about it.” Yes, I tell her, but that is not the point I tried to make. We are “educated” socially aware women; we are fine with these stories, not to say we do not consciously know these are horrible events. Nonetheless, they now fit the narrative of our changing world and how we receive information. It is like these stories of tragedy, murder, puppies, and Kardashians are all on the same assembly line for our eventual consumption; and we don’t bother to look down and rationalize for ourselves what we are about to shove into our heads. We have never been this disconnected I tell her.

I am mad not at her though she embodies many qualities of our millennium generation, but at myself, the hypocrite. I feel troubled by all this noise pollution we call social media, about how it keeps us from really connected to the big stories, and at the same time I depend on it as much as everyone else. I was checking for journalism internships and many required my “social media presence”. By these terms Angel Kardashian will surely get an internship before she is out of diapers (given she already had millions of Instagram followers though she is weeks old).

All this internal questioning does not erase what has happened in Berlin, Turkey and Aleppo. These stories of unnecessary human suffering will continue to develop as all the facts are reviled, I just wonder if our attention span can wait that long to truly understand the problem

By- Ana Sofia
Image Source- https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7312/12341250784_b86cce583f_c.jpg

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