Editorial: Divided and desensitized

In the wake of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans reflect on the horrific events that transpired over two decades ago that took the lives of nearly 3,000 of their fellow citizens and shaped the minds, lives and worlds of every member of our nation. 

Since that fatal Tuesday morning, the United States has implemented safety measures across the nation in order to prevent such atrocities from repeating themselves following the loss of not only thousands of Americans but also the sense of security that came with living in the most prosperous and well-armed nation in the world.

While many individuals remember exactly where they were the moment they heard the news, others weren’t old enough or even born to remember it at all. In an attempt to inform the generations who did not experience the tragedy firsthand, schools often showed footage of the buildings to impressionable young students to help instill the emotional response that the generations before experienced at the time. 

Students and young Americans of the rising generation do not remember a time when such horrific tragedies prompted a united response from political leaders and the American public. In the wake of mass tragedies in 2022, amid hopelessness and confusion, we instead see the dialogue often resort to division and desensitization.

All that many of us remember has been division in the wake of each new mass tragedy. It feels as if these occur on an almost daily basis and, although they occur on on a smaller scale, they are visible at the touch of a button in an endless online news cycle. 

In the minds of many, the attacks on the Twin Towers were one of, if not the most, horrific and scarring events broadcasted on live television. Now, with the shared media and instant access to publication, other acts of violence are more visible. In May of this year, a gunman live-streamed himself killing ten people in a supermarket, as reported by Reuters

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of the public in 2001 received their news from television and only 5% found their news online. In 2022, the Pew Research Center found that about 86% of Americans now receive news online. 

The constant information intake that we experience now comes with an infusion of beliefs and divisiveness that seems to put individuals in a bubble of their internet presence rather than looking at the world through the lens of the difficulty of human tragedy. On television and online, the emotional impact of what is seen on the news is apparent. This exposure has desensitized us, which has encouraged apathy and diminished unity. 

Each year, remembering 9/11 allows the American public to process the trauma we collectively experienced 21 years ago. This remembrance is solemn and united, but rings hollow as we fail to come together across ideological divides to address continued apathy and domestic violence in our country today.