MANSFIELD: Have We All Become Addicts?

It’s like driving past a horrific car wreck; we don’t want to look, but we can’t quite turn our eyes away from the carriage. Something — something primal, something ancient, something embedded in our DNA from the time we first crawled out of caves and learned to walk upright — attracts us to tragedy, causes us to become voyeurs … to watch others as they twist in the winds of fate, hoisted on the jagged edge of unfortunate circumstance.

Perhaps it’s just that we simply are grateful that we’re not one of the poor buggers going through the trauma, that it’s not us or our loved ones being buffeted and knocked about by the storm, that it’s not us that will be washed up on the shores of misery, our lives irrecoverably altered — for the worse.

Have the TV cameras captured so much terror, so much pain (both legitimate and manufactured, like the Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer variety) that we have become addicted to the outpouring human suffering, again, genuine and manufactured? Do we now need doses of trauma — viewed from a safe distance of course — on a regular basis just to jolt our nervous systems awake, like adrenaline junkies craving the next rush?

Have our lives become so filled with ennui, our days filled with so much tedium that we glom onto anything that makes us feel engaged and alive; anything that shakes us out of our lethargic somnolence?

Is this why the networks now endlessly looping anything and everything remotely connected to Texas church massacre — because it’s something that will cut through the miasma of our existence and keep our eyes glued to the screen so advertisers can sell us more soap powder, more cars, more of whatever it is they’re peddling? Have we become hostages to the 24-hour news cycle?

Has moaning over a lost loved one in public, demonstrating genuine (or sometimes, fake) pain and sorrow over the loss of a family member, in full view of the unblinking eye of the TV camera for all the world can see, become the new reality show? And if so, are we — as a society — now craving such demonstrations to the extent that we are actually encouraging such events?

Have we become such vicarious consumers of tragedy that we not only tolerate mass murder, but sublimely, silently, are waiting for the next occurrence so that we feel fortunate that it didn’t happen to us and ours? Are we becoming inured to the pain of others?

If so, this is exactly what the manufacturers of the weapons of mass destruction used in these heinous acts want … the creation of a “new normal,” the acceptance of madness as routine. The coarsening of our culture so they can continue to pursue the almighty dollar, no matter the damage inflicted on society by the products they produce; the silencing of any protestations by the populace, and thus the abrogating of any public outcry against this type of insanity.

If the foregoing is true, then woe be unto us, as this is a clear sign that our society is degenerating, unraveling right before our very eyes. And all we seem capable of doing is to watch, like a country comprised of nothing but horror junkies, hooked on the deaths of our fellow citizens.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.

 

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