So I’m listening to the (great) book by Lianne Moriarity, What Alice Forgot. The character, Elizabeth, is thinking about watching something on the news where a woman was speaking to reporters, standing in front of a collapsed school her child is inside of. After the interview, the woman received the news that no further rescues would be attempted, and the woman was then writhing around on the ground wailing in agony. Elizabeth comments that she was eating chips. She was eating chips watching this woman experience the most horrific moment of her life…
That got me thinking.
Motion sickness happens when your brain receives conflicting input. You’re riding in a car and some of your body senses you’re moving at great speed, and some of your body’s other senses sense nothing at all. The conflict of input makes you sick…or it can just make you sleepy…make you begin to shut down all input, basically.
So imagine being on the scene of a collapsed elementary school after an earthquake where children are buried. Imagine being there when this mother is told her daughter will never be recovered from beneath the ruins of the school even though she could possibly be alive in there, crying out for help. Imagine standing there next to that woman and…just…eating chips…having no emotional reaction to her. Imagine chatting casually with your spouse while she’s there, feet from you, writhing in pain. Imagine pulling your phone out to check and reply to a text message while she’s there with her heart bleeding for her baby.
If that was real life…you’d be one freaking sick weirdo, right? People might call you a sociopath if you were to have that reaction to the situation in real life, yeah?
What about sex? Say you walk in on two of your friends having sex. Imagine pulling up a chair, pulling out a snack, and just sitting and casually watching. How about you and a friend pulling up a chair and both of you just watching, chatting about unrelated things here and there, maybe taking a scroll thru your alerts on your phone quick while you’re at it. Would that be weird?
Or how about…you walk down the street and see some scary person grabbing a lady and dragging her off into the bushes. He’s beating her, hurting her, then he rapes and stabs her and leaves her for dead. How ‘bout then? What if you just stood there, watching, munching on a snack and again…maybe casually chatting with other passersby or responding to a message on Facebook.
That would be freaking WEIRD wouldn’t it?
But see…that IS the world we now live in. We live in a world where screens are the primary way we get out into the world and experience other humans and every day…all day.
So…essentially we’re experiencing emotional motion sickness, aren’t we? Some of our senses…our eyes and ears…are being exposed to absolute horrors...life at high speeds…and the rest of our senses…are receiving no input, as though we’re not moving at all.
So if we’re not being moved by this to become sick…is it putting us to sleep?
Is all the conflicting input shutting down all our senses when it comes to caring for others?
I think sometime in the future we're going to find out it was actually more toxic to humans than any carcinogen known to man. It was more toxic and dangerous than any religion, any politician, any terrorist group...anything. What screens like the one I'm staring at right now...are probably slowly but steadily...destroying our humanity...