If we are to listen intently to the various media outlets that report on news and current affairs every day, we could be forgiven for believing that the world is veering on the very edge of tumult. From global conflicts that push the grand concept of world peace ever further from the grasp of civilized community to health and social issues that are more prominent within the US, it would appear that societies and the people within them are at the mercy of circumstances like no other generation before them.
However, many of these local or global issues are created by the many faults of mankind, whether it is greed to steal or satisfy a personal desire, or a misguided aspiration to use faith and religion and a tool to engineer anarchy. This makes these problems so much more than the sum of their parts, as there are too many cases of individuals turning away and displaying overt apathy in the face of their manifestation. The most pertinent question is whether this apathy is the root cause for such social issues, or whether it is a consequence of them and their subsequent media coverage.
What are the Issues and their Causes
This lack of feeling can be seen in many cases of neglect and wilful ignorance. For example, the level of US citizens who smoke is still unreasonably high at between 19 and 20 percent. Although this figure is down by an estimated 5 percent on the numbers recorded in 1990, it is unfathomable given both the public exposure of the damage that cigarettes cause and the quality of treatments available that so many still choose to smoke at all. This practice is clearly at odds with the advertisement campaigns, scientific research and media coverage that has been invested in revealing the extent that cigarette smoking can do to the human body.
This level of apathy and ignorance is also apparent in the rise in obesity amongst adult citizens within the US. As a society, increased internet and television resource as allowed civilians to garner more information than ever before on niche subjects, with the result that it has never been easier to source nutritional and dietary information. These vast swathes of data and advisory material are clearly not effective however, as over a third of the adult population continue to suffer with obesity, with a total of over 65 percent overweight and struggling to balance their diet with the requisite exercise.
Further to this, we live in an age where violent crime is prominent, although it is known to afflict certain geographical areas more than others. Despite this, and the sensationalized reporting techniques of the contemporary media, there is a distinct lack of a balanced perception and empathetic understanding shown towards criminal conduct and its victims. What modern statistics show is that people living in modern society are likely to react in two ways to violence and its portrayal in the media: with both a depressed and negative outlook on the world and a noticeable lack of sympathy or comprehension to the suffering of those affected by violent crime.
Is Apathy a Cause or a Consequence?
These trends are worrying, but the question remains whether they are at the heart of today’s prominent social issues or merely an unsettling garnering of consequences. To answer this, each issue needs to be addressed individually with regards to its place in contemporary society and its specific nature, and this process can help to determine how it is affiliated with communal apathy. In terms of health issues such as those suffered by persistent cigarette smokers and over eaters, there is no doubt that apathy is a relevant cause and catalyst to their development.
The levels of information and data that can be sourced on the subjects of smoke inhalation and nutrition are vast, aided immensely by the ever increasing resources made available through the applications of the World Wide Web. In the instances where society’s members are made aware of all the requisite facts and consequences about a particular activity, then it becomes clear that it is the ignorance of such warnings and a general apathy to their meaning that act as an inherent cause.
A link can be drawn here between these issues, the violence in society and subsequent media coverage. It has long been suggested that the extensive and sensationalized reporting of violent trends and acts serves only to desensitize viewers to its effects, and this theory can also be applied to the media coverage of health and nutritional issues. This ethos, allied to the growing competitiveness and frequency of rival news corporations and their daily bulletins, creates a surfeit of information that is presented in an increasingly dramatic fashion. Subsequently, these words lose their meaning and purpose over a given period of time.
The Apathetic Generation
When assessing prevalent social issues in contemporary USA and western society, apathy appears most prominently as a cause rather than a consequence. Such apathy itself is a result of over exposure to media reporting and the subsequent surfeit of information available, where any problem deemed even slightly relevant in contemporary society is highlighted and sensationalized to the point where is completely distorted. This leads to distrust and apprehension amongst the viewing public, who begin to develop their own understanding of these issues as media words and informational resources lose their meaning. As a result, society becomes apathetic to the assertions of media representatives or industry experts, and instead creates a suitable comprehension of issues to suit their own requirements.