I had first heard the news on Tuesday when a truck had intentionally driven through a crowd of pedestrians in New York City. I didn’t pay it much mind since I had class and it was Halloween, and quite frankly things like this are just normal now.
As I drove back to Johnson City early Wednesday morning before class, I listened to National Public Radio and it was so centered on the event that had transpired in New York City the day before. While I headed home and got further and further away from Knoxville, the NPR station slowly faded into static, leaving the interviews and analysis I had just heard on NPR replaying in my head.
The news reporters interviewed different witnesses and NYC officials to try and gather the most accurate news of what had happened on Tuesday. Statistics, facts and connections were drawn from NPR reporters and interviewed officials that I had not previously been aware of.
One obvious connection was that this attack (now being labeled as a terror attack by the NYC major) is very similar to vehicular terror attacks previously seen in Europe often carried out by the extremist Islamic group, ISIS. Although this attack has not yet been credited to ISIS, it still is being labeled as a terrorist attack.
The second connection drawn is derived from that this is the deadliest terrorist attack in NYC since 9/11. Coincidently enough, the attack Tuesday took place just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center Memorial in Downtown Manhattan.
What keeps bothering me about this attack is the fact that I am unbothered by it. Do not confuse my indifferent state for a lack of empathy for those effected or a lack of condoning for what took place.
However, on my drive back to Johnson City I began to analyze why I was unaffected, and I could only narrow it down to a normalization of major crime, or perhaps more accurately, a desensitization or numbness to major crime.
It is impossible to be bombarded with constant news of death and violence while having the time to grieve and maintain a normal and emotionally healthy life.
Once I established why I was feeling unbothered by such an awful event, I began to think, “What would it take to shock me, bother me, move me?” An attack larger than this, such as 9/11?
I was less than 5-years-old when the World Trade Center was attacked, so in some ways, I consider myself fortunate enough to not remember the events from that day. Since I cannot remember the immediate pain from that event, I wonder if another strike like that happened today, would I feel as unbothered as I do about the terror attack that occurred on Tuesday?
I think it is dangerous to generalize a population, but I cannot help but think I am not a minority in feeling this way. I cannot help but think we would not react the same today as we did 16-years-ago if another terrorist attack to the magnitude of 9/11 occurred today.
The shock factor is gone; the rarity of mass casualty is gone, and the sensitivity to major crime such as this is gone.