Millennials: The Generation of Desensitization

Millennials: The Generation of Desensitization

"We don't like calling white people terrorists. We like to call them gentle and misunderstood."
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December 14, 2012. 10:55 AM PST. Like every other day that semester, I walked from my AP Literature classroom to the lunch room to meet my friends. At my lunch table, I was greeted by my friends, all glued to their phones. Unlike the usual chatter, shouting over one another, and singing that comes with theater kids, they were dead silent, eyes furiously scanning their screens.

"There was a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. They think like 20 first graders were killed."

A flashbulb memory is a vivid, enduring memory for how one learned about a surprising, shocking event. This is my flashbulb memory of the Sandy Hook shooting. I don't get flashbulb memories of shootings anymore. Even when the shootings hit rather close to home (Umpqua Community College in my home state, Oregon), I could not tell you where I was when I heard, how I found out. At 19 years old, I've become desensitized to mass shootings.

As Mother Jones reports, "an FBI crime classification report from 2005 identifies an individual as a mass murderer if he kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself), typically in a single location." While the stat of 350+ mass shootings in a year has been thrown around by the media, under the FBI's classification, "there have been at least 73 public mass shootings across the country since the mid-80s, with the killings unfolding in 31 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Thirty-six of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006." This includes Columbine, the South Carolina Church Shootings, Sandy Hook, University of California-Santa Barbara, and the most recent in San Bernardino. No matter how you look at it, the take away is the same: mass shootings are too common nowadays.

When you google "millennials mass shootings," there is no question that a trend has been noticed. Our generation has grown up on not just lock out or in drills, but active shooter drills. There is a need for companies to design bullet-proof covers for children. Is it possible that our generation is becoming desensitized to mass violence?

What does it say about a generation when their reaction to shootings is "Another?" Since Sandy Hook, our reactions have changed drastically since, explained best by Rachel Braun of Portland, Oregon who "was obsessively reading about Sandy Hook when it happened, but I don't bother reading about recent shootings." The news presents the same information time and time again, as satirized by the Onion's article "‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens." If the perpetrator is white and male (as most have been), they're a loner, misunderstood, a bit different. The situation changes when the shooter is Muslim--no longer are they misunderstood, rather anti-American and radical.

It goes without question that social media has greatly impacted millennials and how they view mass shootings. Quick, on-the-sight reporting is a double-edged sword--while it gets the information out to alert others, it also causes misinformation to go out before all the facts that established. Possible perpetrators witness the mass media coverage of their predecessors and see the infamy and attention they would attract. It also changes how we should support our discontent with the events, as seen in the wave of profile pictures in support of Paris. Oregon State University Senior Grace Weaver believes "people make an obligatory post or change their profile picture and feel satisfied. Showing support only works when you stop supporting the system which allows these events to persist and become normalized and begin to support those who have been impacted." We show our support from a distance, but struggle to actually take action against the violence.

As cheesy as it is, Millennials are the future--we are the politicians, teachers, and lobbyists for generations to come. We must stop fear mongering and tackle the issues head on. We must redefine our understanding of terror and come to terms that terrorism is happening here. With a connection of ISIS in the San Bernadino shootings, the media is acting as if the Planned Parenthood shootings never occurred. As Loyola Marymount University Senior Steven Ceniceros explains, "it's easier to attack those who do not share your same values."

There is a glimmer of hope though. On the front page of the New York Times this Sunday, the Editorial Board calls for an end to the gun epidemic in America. For every act of terror, more and more people finally realize the flaw in society. As desensitized as our generation has become, we still strive for change. Despite our post-9/11 cynicism, we can't and won't become desensitized because there are too many people who need our support.

Cover Image Credit: Vox

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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6 Reasons Why Title IX Isn't Protecting Students

The pathway set out for students seeking help with sexual assault is flawed.

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The protections against sexual assault college campuses need to provide must be easily accessible to everyone. That's because sexual assault on college campuses is a common problem. A problem that often goes unreported. Why is this a problem that is not being reported? Reasons vary from person to person; from being embarrassed to be called a liar to being terrified of any form of retaliation. We need to speak out against the injustices we face. Predators need to punished for their actions. Now, how can we help protect victims and exile predators in the "open-field" of college campuses?

In 1972 the Federal Civil Rights Law, Title IX, was passed. This law was established to prohibit sex discrimination at educational institutions; including sexual harassment and sexual violence. For many college campuses, this is the one and only option victims are geared towards. Though some argue we need title nine now more than ever, many disagree. Why? Well, Title IX has extensively dropped the percentage of successfully prosecuted cases from the time they started to the present day. It has become ineffective. Title IX is a critique of a system that protects sexual predators and hurts victims.

When talking to my friend, Mallory Clark, who has experienced going through Title IX, she described her situation like this: "I didn't report it to the police because everything was in his favor. I didn't have any support from Title IX."

Here and 6 reasons why Title IX is doing more harm than good in the status quo.

1. Title IX protects predators

Title IX can only successfully prosecute 9% of cases compared to 60% when they started. Why? That's because Title IX is informing predators on how to avoid "getting caught" or "getting in trouble". In a more detailed illustration; Title IX is educating predators on how to rape or sexually assault individuals. Predators are now modifying their tactics on their abusive actions in order not to fall under the laws Title IX has laid out. It's almost like telling predators "if you cut a sandwich down the middle, you'll be in trouble, but if you do it diagonally, you'll be good."

2. Emotional destruction is belittled

Unless an assault is categorized as "the worst accident in the world," Title IX won't actually do much about it. When a victim is called to give their testimony to Title IX officials, questions like "Did they force themselves on you?" "Did you say no?" "Were you drinking?" "What do you think caused this?" are asked in an interrogating-like style. Because of how Title IX makes it seem as if the only way you're a "true victim" is having been raped, victims feel as if maybe there really isn't any reason for them to be there testifying, much less any reason to feel broken.

An example of this is the way Title IX defines consent. They truly cannot frame or do anything about sexual assault/consent violations that are not clearly defined. Actions, like spreading naked pictures or stealing, are things Title IX still struggle to keep up with. For these reasons, many predators are clear off the radar because to Title IX, they didn't actually "do anything" physical to the victim, i.e. rape.

Something to consider: the physical and mental destruction a victim goes through on the daily having to see their abuser walk around freely, smiling, laughing, living. While the victim feels empty, disgusted and ashamed.

3. Their system takes forever

Title IX does not take immediate action. At least not in most cases. If they do it most likely because the student body was extremely involved in pushing actions to be taken not because Title IX was in a hurry. Title IX will tell us the process is inherently long. However, for as much red tape and bureaucracy they cite as reasons their investigations take so long, they sure do have a shocking amount of oversight. In a recent Title IX investigation at Boise State University, the investigation went four months over their deadline and the predator was able to graduate without them knowing about it. They claimed their hands were tied until the victim and their support system showed up with lawyers.

4. Title IX does not listen

Title IX has a lack of oversight. Title IX has been found to miss deadlines in approximately 54 college campus cases. This shows how little they pay attention to victims. Aside from not prioritizing their cases, Title IX has been giving victims bad advice. An example of this dates back to an incident at Baylor University where Title IX told the victim there was "nothing they could do about her situation" when there was. They simply did not want to deal with it.

The only agency able to regulate their behaviors is the office of ethics—which doesn't have enough funding money and only takes major cases into consideration. They can botch investigation after investigation without any consequences or ways to report or change their behavior

5. Gives institutional legitimacy to predators

Title IX makes it extremely difficult for survivors to find other avenues of justice. Hence why it is the one solution provided throughout college campuses on how to report and get help with any form of assault or discrimination. It makes it seems as if their validation and results are always correct. It makes it okay to call a survivor a "liar" if the invention was not successful.

6. The lack of an official Title IX coordinator

Though many college campuses may have an official Title IX coordinator, this is not applicable to everyone. In fact, Boise State University has not had a legitimate Title IX coordinator in four years. The person in charge at the moment isn't necessarily "qualified" for the position, yet they are still doing the job. This structural problem with Title IX is not being filled. This gets pushed off to the Gender Equity Center which is not equipped to handle the load of victims.

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