The Desensitization and Calcification of Our Collective Humanity

“People are stupid, habitual, and lazy.  Their emotions lead to mistakes.” – Lieutenant Harp

“Maybe humans aren’t emotional enough.” – Captain Leo

Captain Leo is an android in the new Netflix film, Outside the Wire.  Lieutenant Harp is a drone pilot with a cold and calculating outlook.  Captain Leo is designed to experience, learn, and process human psychology, emotions, actions, and so on, so that he becomes more human-like.  And he is.  In fact, he’s become so in tuned with it, that he’s quite possibly more human than human (thank you Rob Zombie).

What he said to Harp about humans not being emotional enough, is pretty damn insightful, for a more human than human droid.  To clarify, it’s about emotion, not drama.  He’s talking about our emotional intelligence and lack thereof. 

Collectively as a species, our emotional intelligence has deteriorated.  Our sense of compassion, understanding, feel, empathy, engagement, communication, and sociology has been severely diminished over the past few decades.  Maybe more.   

We’re losing something.  Something very important.  Our humanity.

So what’s causing this?

Desensitization, calcification, or a combination of both.  To “condition” their shins, Muay Thai boxers repeatedly kick hard surfaces, usually a dense heavy bag.  Some roll a metal or acrylic tube up and down the shins.  Ouch! 

Contrary to popular belief, this practice does not deaden the nerves, so that they don’t feel pain.  But, through repeated exposure to this practice, it does deaden their reaction to the pain, suppressing it through desensitization.  Basically, they get used to it. 

Physically, this training creates micro fractures in the bone, which the body responds to by calcifying, making the shin harder and more dense, so that it can take more damage as well as dish it out. 

When it comes to our emotional intelligence, we replace the hard heavy bag and steel roller of Muay Thai conditioning, with repeated exposure to hatred, crime, divisiveness, racism, violence, drama, tragedy, horror, anger, misery, and evil, desensitizing our reaction to the pain and calcifying our soul, so that it can handle more of this damage.  Over time, it’s a losing battle.    

There are so many sources and we can’t get enough of it.  We’re overexposing ourselves through 24-hour news, where everything is twisted to inflate the negativity of anything that is fed through the business of the “news”. 

But, one of the biggest sources we love to consume is all of the crime and tragedy TV series’.  The list is way too long to mention, which hints at their popularity.  The effects of prolonged consumption can be highly detrimental.

Actor, Mandy Patinkin who’s very well known for the Showtime series, Homeland and the movie, The Princess Bride, also did a two year stint on Criminal Minds before he left the procedural show.  In reference to Criminal Minds, he explained that he was very unhappy with the whole experience and said, “it was very destructive to my soul and my personality.” 

In a 2016 article by Frankie Magner in The Gavel, she stated, “Repeated exposure to the crimes depicted in these procedurals can foster a lack of empathy, aggressive behavior, and violence.”

To stay high in ratings, the networks resort to cheap tricks, making the shows more and more intense and therefore, more acceptable.  And therefore, more desensitizing; more calcification.

Studies are now seeing a form of post-traumatic stress disorders associated with this exposure, which can be associated with depression and anxiety as well as sleep disorders.  The brain has to process this stuff.  Severe levels of acute elevated stress and nervousness can trigger feelings of emotional numbness. 

Beyond the “news” and procedural TV dramas, we are now getting messaged at (sneaky, but not so sneakily) through sitcoms, movies, and songs.  We used to laugh and enjoy entertainment for the beneficial effects it provided, making us laugh, bringing us together, and allowing us to decompress from the daily rat race.  Not any more. 

They slide in some racism disguised as anti-racism for you, because you know; we need to be educated. 

And here’s a bit of divisive politics to think about, here’s a jab at our patriotism, here’s something to make you feel guilty about being whatever you are.  And make no mistake; no one is safe.  Today they’re burning that witch, but tomorrow, it’s you.  Be careful. 

They don’t care about your race, your politics, your beliefs, religion, values, or anything else.  They don’t know you exist and couldn’t care less if you do.  They care about money.  And ratings bring that in.

So, the next time we take an EQ test to rate our emotional intelligence, we can blame the low score on the deleterious effects of desensitization of emotion and a calcification of soul.

Or … quit kicking that damn heavy bag, throw away the steel roller, and find better sources of “news” and “entertainment”.  Maybe hang out with each other and laugh, enjoying each other’s company. 

Peace.  Namaste.  Cheers.

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

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