Kill. Everyday we read or hear of soldiers or civilians caught in the deadly crossfire of war, of the young or elderly falling victim to one of the horrible illnesses that plagues our fragile planet and of children who lose their lives because they cannot feed themselves or their families cannot feed them.
The word “kill”, “die”, “death” and “dead” are thrown around in mainstream media these days as if they have no meaning. Those who read the news regularly need only a few months to become completely desensitized, I for one find it hard to associate the words with anything unless I see the actual killing or death occur.
It’s like that feeling you get when you look at the same word for a really long time. After a little while it just looks like odd scribbles on a page.
It’s horrible, I know. But so many of us are now like this. Death and destruction are commonplaces in our modern world, wars happen, they come and go like anything else, kids starve and die. It’s a fact of life.
The word “death” is used so often in the media that it has been stripped of everything except its literal meaning: to cease to exist. Really, depending on the context, the word can suggest a plethora of possibilities surrounding the death itself. War (whether founded or unfounded), corruption, greed, lust, hate, torture or worst of all, the most egregious crime man can commit: murder.
Before becoming interested in journalism these words meant something to me. But now, after having studied the craft for a few years and being the media monitor that I now am, they’ve lost everything but their literal meanings.
It’s not that I hate journalism for desensitizing me; I actually thank it for teaching me that these things happen. Murders, killings, deaths, destruction, bombs, war, hate, greed, corruption – all of it is part of life, our society’s gritty underbelly that isn’t hidden under the belly, thanks to journalism.
So, perhaps until I (fingers crossed) succeed in the field and become the traveling international reporter I so desire to become, I will see these words, this language, as representative of normal, everyday occurrences. After I see it firsthand, I know my opinion is likely to change.