Between a Rock and A Hard Place: Social Media and How it Shapes the Prevailing Culture

Sensationalism and desensitization.

Sensationalism or to sensationalise is exactly how it sounds like. If your first thought was Adele, Britney Spears, or Beyoncè up on the stage, flooded by confetti accompanies by the echoing howl of a stadium audience, you’re not too far from the concept.

At Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Our friends from Merriam-Webster defines it as “to describe or show something in a way that makes it seem more shocking than it really is”

Desensitisation, or to de-sensitize, as hinted by its root words, meaning to remove sensation from, to provoke apathy.

Two extremes—one no better than the other—always relative to context, sensationalism and desensitization are two concurring concepts that happen real-time through social media. Ah, great! Another social media use commentary think piece. I know you’re oversaturated as it is with enough information today to last you until the next season, but people just can’t, and won’t stop talking about this. This topic is lit AF, and there’s no turning back.

With No Sense of Equilibrium

Who we’ve become, over the years, is a toss-up between being prone to consuming information that’s sensationalised #clickbait, or consuming too much of the same thing that makes you desensitised #deadinside. At the end of the day, viral videos—when stripped of their number of shares and the fact that your peers shared it (#peerpressure)—are just videos made by some other person. The PR efforts made into them looking like viral videos are tremendous. What is normal and mundane suddenly becomes #breakingnews when broadcasted live on social media. Given the right caption copy and a legit enough title, you can get people—vulnerable to entertainment and education once they have their phones in hand—to believe anything.

In the same way, having too much of something stops us from feeling anything for that concept ever again. Too much violence raises us to become apathetic, as if wars and hate are normal. We rarely get excited because it’s been done before, “didn’t you see the vine on that?” It takes away a part that’s supposed to empathize with the world, and it gets filled with a void of eye rolls and groans.

This has become a culture of either/or. We’re either too naive, or too apathetic. We’ve lost balance somehow and it’s high time we regain our sense of equilibrium.