On Saturday, September 17, 2016, there was an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City in Manhattan. I heard the news from my older sister, who in turn heard the news thanks to her newsfeed on Facebook. As she told me this, I took my eyes off of the computer, looked at her, said, “Any dead people?” to which she replied “I’m not sure” and then I continued to do what I was doing on my computer. Now, some three or so hours later, I’m thinking to myself: Is this something that has been caused by the internet? This desensitization that I have often felt after terrible events.
This one event reminded me of how I reacted to the news of the attack in Nice, France. I looked at the headlines — at the time I was at the NYPD academy — and said to myself, “Holy shit, another one.” I had a similar reaction when I heard of the attacks on satirical French magazine "Charlie Hebdo" in 2015. Now, this is not to say that this explosion in Chelsea is a terrorist attack, because saying that will be misguided. However, the constant influx of atrocities and misfortunes that are channeled through social media daily have made me to feel desensitized with my city.
You turn on the television and you hear of an airstrike that hit the wrong target in Syria, resulting in innocent "casualties," or simply innocent deaths. You go on Facebook and you see a fight on the subway station resulting in a woman getting knocked unconscious while trying to help break up the fight. Log in to Twitter, and you see #McChicken trending worldwide and you think that it is a marketing campaign, only to end up having to call Agent J from "Men In Black" to erase what you have now seen. There is no escape from witnessing all of these calamities and, as such, it is natural to become hardened and let things that should slide or go unnoticed go as such.
I think that if we were to care more about these things for a longer period of time, then I probably would not feel as I do now. As of now, I can’t help but wonder, "What tragedy is going to be trending tomorrow? Will this tragedy hit even closer to home? And how much closer can you get than the island of Manhattan. I hope that tomorrow I can wake up to the hashtag #NoFatalitiesInChelsea.