Do you find yourself skimming over death tolls with little remorse for those perished?‚ Ever think about the welfare of the families of the Somalis or Pakistanis killed in terrorist attacks?‚ It pains me to say I rarely do.‚ And that’ not my fault.
Over the past decade (around 9/11 and the beginning of the Iraq war) the media has been so flooded with news about terrorist attacks, death and torture.‚ It was before too, but now that American presence is so prominent abroad, more and more people read world news on a daily basis.
For those people who follow international affairs, I’m sure (at least I hope I’m not alone on this) death toll numbers aren’t staggering until they reach near a hundred or more.‚ Sometimes it doesn’t set in until it gets to a few hundred.
The numbers do hurt though if the dead are Americans (or Canadians and Indians in my case), or the tragedy happens in America (or Canada or India).‚ But if 21 are killed in a blast in Bangladesh, people tend to care more about who’s responsible than about those now without husbands, wives, mothers, sons and daughters.
Now, as I find myself reading more and more world news (as I become more and more interested) I’m becoming immune to these death tolls.‚ It’s not right, but the written word can only affect someone so much and when articles are written eloquently with such little emotion, a number is just a number.
For example, when I read about the 52 Somalis who died in the recent smuggling attempt, I was more interested in the smuggling part than the dead 52.‚ There is a disconnect between the 52 and reality, the number is just a number for me.‚ People died, 52 died, I don’t know their names, their faces, anything about them.‚ Something happened to 52 people, I couldn’t control it.
A while back, before I started journalism school, I didn’t read international news that often.‚ I’d read about dead Indians one day and a week later I’d hear an embassy was bombed in Egypt.‚ That took a toll on me, people were dying and though I couldn’t help stop it, I could tell people about it.‚ That’s why I got into the biz.‚ To make sure people knew this was all going on.
Now, I guess it’s easier that it doesn’t affect me as much because I can read about it more and educate myself without suffering any emotionally scarring.‚ Journalists need to be able to get past all that.
As I say and now understand, you have to see things like this to have them take a toll on you, the written word can only do so much.
I’m not saying its the media’s fault, I want to know about what’s going on around the world no matter how depressing.‚ I guess it’s the fault of those perpetrating the violence, those giving the media something to report on. Although without it, I’d have a lot less work to do as a journalist. So for me, it’s a catch-22.