Comfortably Numb?…Where Has Our Empathy Gone?

Comfortably Numb?...Where Has Our Empathy Gone?

Mari VanPeltMari VanPelt
Blogger | Mother

Death SHOULD bother us…where has our empathy gone? Are we too desensitized and comfortably numb? And not the Pink Floyd type of numb…These are the questions I asked myself this weekend.

The first incident that prompted me to ponder this question was the recent story of a young YouTube sensation, Logan Paul. He filmed himself in an Japanese forest that was prevalent for suicides. In the YouTube “Suicide Forest” video he displayed and mocked a person that had just killed himself. Granted the face was slightly blurred, but the man has been identified. Logan Paul also was seen laughing during the entire story. LAUGHING and standing just feet from a poor soul that felt so much despair and hopelessness he took his own life.

My first thought was, “I hope the family of this individual is not hearing about their family member’s suicide this way.” This man in the tree was a son, brother, husband, and friend and this is how he is memorialized in Social Media. It was truly a gross exhibition from this YouTube host.Comfortably Numb?...Where Has Our Empathy Gone?

YouTube waited one week to reply and condemned the YouTuber, Logan Paul but he still maintains an active profile on YouTube. Logan Paul went on to post an apology, but get this…the apology video is monetized. So he is earning money off his apology? Something is not right here, by both his followers and YouTube who basically slapped him on the wrist.

A few days later my middle daughter asked me if i knew about the suicide forest story. I said “unfortunately yes, why?” she proceeded to tell me that this was a topic in her debate class she went on to tell me that the majority of the class voted to not discuss the suicide forest because they just wanted to move on. Move on…? Is that indicative of the students being “numb” to the sort of social media antics?

After reeling from this story and my discussion with my daughter, I had another instance that brought me back to the question…Are we just becoming desensitized to violence, death & despair?

I was on my way home from dropping my daughter off at a soccer game and I had noticed some smoke up ahead on the road. A couple of minutes later the traffic started to slow as I got closer to the smoke. I heard sirens in the distance. Something about the color of the smoke and the amount of it told me this was a big fire and that responders hadn’t arrived yet. I was only partly wrong. When I finally edged up to my turn at the intersection, a semi truck cab was completely engulfed in angry crimson, red flames. There are no words to describe the ferocity of this blaze. Flames must have been 20 feet into the sky. Only one firefighter was fighting the flames.

I don’t know why I reacted the way that I did. I had a visceral reaction to the flames, I started shaking, sobbing, and begging God…”Please Lord don’t let anyone be in there!” The scene, this fire was so dark and violent. I had to pull over to calm myself down.

That’s when I noticed cars pulled over. They were not there to render help. The drivers and passengers were OUTSIDE OF THEIR CARS FILMING THIS! Not only adults, but adults with their young children. I was completely aghast at the situation. I have never been so disappointed in society as a whole .

These two instances have prompted me to ask the question..Are we desensitized to violence? If so what is the cause? I once read an article stating that video games desensitize adults and children to violence. I didn’t quite buy into that, but now I’m starting to think there is truth to this. Or could it be social media, and the lack of boundaries that it allows? Whatever the cause it is truly disturbing. Suicide SHOULD bother us and dead bodies SHOULD bother us!

Where has our empathy gone?

What are your thoughts?


This post was originally posted on the blog.

Mari VanPeltAbout Mari VanPelt

I am a mother, a sister, daughter, friend, and wife. Some days I am good at these things and some days I fail miserably. I am a wanna-be yogi. I love to play in the dirt and watch things grow. I enjoy taking random photos of irony and randomness but never call myself a photographer because I have a fancy camera but don’t know how to use all the buttons. I am obsessed with my animals. Probably because they can’t talk back and they love me unconditionally. I try to live every day with intention and try to teach my children to do the same. I know I can’t change the world but I think I can.

I have ex’s and baggage and that’s what makes me human. I have a millennial family where everyone has a different last name. I used to carry that with shame but I no longer do. I have crashed and burned a few times but have always gotten back up. I know now that these are the life experiences that we grow and evolve from, so embrace them because there is a lesson to be learned even as crappy as it feels right now.

I am wanting this blog to reach other women that are going thru messy life experiences to understand that our lives aren’t always recipes, cleaning, and having kiddos with straight A’s. I wish they were! Our lives sometimes involve divorces, Wellbutrin, and a little therapy or a lot and that’s ok. We need to laugh more, lean on each other more, and lend each other a non-judgmental ear when needed.

“So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.” » Gordon W. Allport

She can be reached at her website:



Mari VanPelt

11 Comments on “Comfortably Numb?…Where Has Our Empathy Gone?”

  1. with social media disconnecting people from others so that people don’t seem real (they are behind a screen) it is easier and easier to feel numb unfortunately

  2. Wow, I had no heard about the suicide forest video until reading this post, I find the entire thing disturbing. As a society, in general, I think we are desensitized and I’m not sure how this happened or how to best deal with it. I think violent TV and movies plays a part, but certainly not entirely to blame.

    1. Thanks for your insight Em. Our world seems entirely different than that of our grandparents.

  3. I hope that empathy is not gone because it’s so important. It’s one of the first things I taught my two boys. Caring about someone or something is so important. Everyone needs to open their hearts a little more and start looking at the world around them and stop focusing on themselves so much.

  4. I feel that people are desensitised due to the fact that they don’t read good novels any more. This sounds odd but so many people nowadays live in the present and their only contact with others is by mobile phones and the Internet and violent films. If only they stopped for a while and thought about life and death, then I am sure they would be more caring and considerate.

    As for the filming – this can often be helpful for the police after the event when they are trying to piece together the causes and results.

  5. It is sad that today’s society is numb and ignorant to the fact that it could have been their loved one. Only when it happens to them do they have feelings and empathy. So much violence and hatred in the world that society views it as normal and become numb to the reality that any death is sorrowful and should be respected as well as the family’s loss. I could go on and on. So much is wrong with today’s society. God help them.

  6. So timely with yet another school shooting today :( I think we are numb to this now. Sad to think it will only rock us to the core when it is our own child.

  7. Hi, Nidhi thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. It is unfortunate that our youth is inundated and I believe being desensitized to these realities of life.

  8. I hate when someone even say about anything related suicide as I have seen my friend trying suicide. Luckily she got caught. I haven’t seen that video but heard a lot about it. I really love reading this post and absolutely agree with you.

    1. No Kathy Thank YOU for reading my post! I will be updating shortly. It is unfortunate but true that the Logan Paul and YouTube story continues.

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