Overexposure to violence leaves us jaded

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2003

There have been so many rapidly changing developments in the war in Iraq, that it has become nearly impossible to keep up with the latest news on an absolutely timely basis. I know this, because as soon as I arrived home Monday night, the first news report I saw on television was that Saddam Hussein and his sons could possibly be dead.

Instead of having that story in the newspaper, which broke after my deadline, I ran a story on the possibility of chemical weapons being found in Iraq.

It's a risk you take when you work in the newspaper business

hoping that the next big story breaks on your cycle, and you're able to outdistance the reach of the television and radio. Sadly, for me, it rarely happens. But, you come to accept that risk and still remain hopefully optimistic.

However, beyond that, there is a pressing issue that has come from all the coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that is the fact that most Americans have become jaded to violence, death and destruction to the point that very little surprises us anymore.

I'm no exception.

I've seen enough movies, television programs, and even witnessed enough events to become what some might call a little "hardened" to such graphic material. I wish it weren't so. There are still some things that bother me, like actually seeing someone getting killed - which I've seen happen in person, and the events of September 11, 2001.

However, more often than not, I'm not surprised by most things anymore. Instead, I have this feeling of "Whoa! Did you see that!?"

Monday night was no exception. As I was watching the live coverage on MSNBC (may God be with the family of David Bloom), a tank or jet fired a round at a location directly in front of a television camera. The cameraman, alarmed by the proximity of the blast dropped to the ground for cover, leaving the camera bouncing wildly on its perch. All I could say was "Oh my gosh, that was the coolest thing I've ever seen."

It shouldn't have been. But, sadly with all the live television coverage of war, all the movies with violent images, etc., that's the truth.

I'm not on a rant about violence or anything, in fact, I'm probably one of the least offended people around, but I have come to recognize that sometimes, things have gone too far, and have gotten entirely out of hand.

Parents, I implore you, limit the amount of war coverage your children watch. In fact, as a self-professed news junkie, I implore you, as an adult to limit the amount of coverage you watch. I'm trying to do the same.

Thankfully, the networks have realized that too much coverage is a real thing, and have opted to run their normal programming - even bad shows are welcome relief from true "reality television" - and only break in when something is truly deemed necessary.

Seeing dead bodies scattered across the ground on a television screen or on the front page of a paper isn't an image any of us want to wake up to or go to bed with at night. In war, a little goes a long way, and too much can cause irreparable damage.

Jeffery Biggs is the editor of the Star-News.