Apathy and the Media

Topics: Bystander effect, Kitty Genovese, Violence Pages: 7 (2859 words) Published: July 4, 2012
Apathy and the Media
A person laying on the street homeless begging for money and nobody gives him a nickel; a couple fighting just a little too much while others watch not wanting to get involved; and a parent hitting their child profusely in a store as other customers keep moving their shopping carts forward not wanting to intervene. These are all examples of apathy that happen among our world every single day. Apathy is a problem that has been happening for years. As a result of this we see increased participation of the bystander effect, an effect in which people don’t take action in an emergency situation because nobody else is. This apathetic behavior can lead to many people getting hurt and some even killed. Although we have heard stories of these unfortunate events we still allow them to happen in our society. One might wonder, why has this problem not gone away? Some believe the media is the reason why this is because according to some it reflects a negative impact on the viewers that in return participate in the bystander effect and show apathetic behaviors in everyday life. However, I believe the media, firstly, presents coverage that spreads awareness fast to try to cease apathy from taking place, secondly, that one can learn things about apathy through the media, and thirdly, that the media can also influence a person’s cultural and social values so that one is not apathetic in the first place. The media presents apathy to the world, however, society continues to ignore and exhibit passivity towards these monstrosities. When talking about apathy one of the stories that seemed to be always mentioned is the murder of Kitty Genovese. In the New York Times article “Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police” (one of the primary sources of this story), Martin Gansberg describes the murder. In the article it talks about how Kitty Genovese was walking home when she was attacked and stabbed by Winston Moseley. According to Gansberg, “For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens” (1). Kitty Genovese died soon after the attack. I mention this story because it is a great example of the apathy that the shown in our society even today even though this happened in 1964. Kitty Genovese might still be alive if one of the neighbors decided not be a bystander. A factor that influences apathy is the media. There are those that believe media can have a negative effect on society and those who believe the media can have a positive effect on the society. Douglas A Gentile who edited Media Violence and Children: a Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals is one who believes that media can actually cause the apathy and make influence people to become bystanders in a stressful situation (4). In today’s society there are many violent video games or inapprioate televisions shows that children shouldn’t necesiaaly watch so I can see why some believe that the media is considered in some people’s eyes, a bad thing. On the other hand, Matthias Rauterberg from Technical University Eindhoven wrote a paper titled “Positive Effects of Entertainment Technology on Human Behavior” that states some of the positive effects of the media that are possible such as academic performance, teaching, and pro-social behavior (53-54). There are many shows and video games that are positive ways in which many people learn things from and that help influence them to do the right thing. These different opinions are a major debate that still takes place today. Personally, I take the stance of the media and its positive effects on our society. One of the best features of the media is that it can spread awareness to numerous amounts of people in a fast pace. Because of this people can learn about horrible events that happen and go help rather than be apathetic towards a situation. There are many types of media that spread awareness to the...
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