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Could Desensitization of Taste and Emotion be Linked to Modernization?
#1
Well, here are my thoughts on it...

For a while now, I've been thinking about desensitization of emotions because I feel like I've been going through it myself. I've brought it up in discussion with people many times and I've been surprised with finding out that I'm not the only one that struggles to feel intense emotions. I've been wanting to know why a lot of us seem to feel this way, and I've theorized that it might have to do with modern conveniences.

For example, in the past, Winter was a despised season because it was marked with famine. Most people had to starve due to lack of food to be distributed, so as a result, Spring was glorified and in a sense it still is, though many of us complain about the allergies that it brings. The famine that people had to endure also might explain why there are so many celebratory qualities to harvest found in cultures around the world. I mean, some of them can be quite extravagant.

However, in a modern world, we don't have to worry about constantly being cold in the winter or running out of food because we're spoiled with intensive agriculture and worldwide trade. At least most of us in well-off countries are. Our taste buds are also being played with, especially here in America, where the food industry constantly comes up with new ways for our food to taste better and be eaten faster.

And on the topic of emotion, I think that being able to watch movies and browse the internet all the time causes some of us to be desensitized to things such as shock, violence, and even empathy. And then there are people like me who have been through so many changes in sense of humor that we're rarely amused and don't laugh very often as a result. In a fast paced world, we don't often get to sit down with family and friends anymore. Ever since chatrooms, chat sites, and social networking became a thing, so has social isolation.

I feel like I might just be spilling out thoughts in the form of a forum topic, but I think it's an interesting thing to elaborate on and define how I feel about it, especially since I've been hearing more and more people saying that they lack emotion.

And so I ask you guys, what do you think about the question in the topic? And what are some ways that one can avoid desensitization in a society where sensory pleasure can be so instantly satisfied?
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#2
Sounds more like depression.

And I think that's more widespread because it's now a recognized condition. Back when our parents and grandparents were younger, they just used to call them "fits" and would attach electrodes to their tongue until people suddenly got "Better" despite still having panic attacks and severe crippling depression.

As for pleasure/instant gratification--- it is BIG time due to modernization. Information is at your fingertips, so is food, media and well, everything.
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#3
I think that emotional desensitization in one extreme is largely due to experiencing something before one is mature enough to cope with something in a healthy manner.
This can be compounded by picking up poor coping mechanisms from our life situation.

The flipside, of course, is that one is overexposed to a concept or experience and, if formerly enjoyable, is perceived as too formulaic.

While the former involves emotional trauma, the latter is something that can be dealt with by stepping back and finding one's calm place. If something you normally enjoy is not seeming enjoyable... well, you've eaten too much proverbial cake. Lay off it for a while and it'll be tastier later.
However, a part of contemporary culture is that so much of our media is tailored to make it unpleasant on the short term to use in a healthy moderation. Don't fret over friends' facebook status, and you're stuck out of the social loop. Don't play ME3 multiplayer enough, and you might not be able to get the ending you want.
Things like that.

As Rensin touched on before, part of the change in peoples' emotion is that we more readily address emotions these days. But we're also (in America, at least) the first generation that's expected to be, on average, less healthy than the one before us. We're artificially inducing stress, sleeping less, making it easier to eat poorly, and having to commit fewer physical activities, you know the drill.

What kills me, though, is that our culture refuses take preventative measures or seek the heart of the problem. I've mentioned before that I have a hormone sensitivity issue. We look at depression as an issue in itself, when it may well be a symptom of health problems or domestic or some other form of abuse. If I had gone with the first few diagnoses instead of finding a doctor who could actually help me, I'd be taking hard-core epilepsy medications instead of estrogen suppliments and migraine medicine.
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#4
(05-14-2013, 12:24 AM)Dae Wrote: What kills me, though, is that our culture refuses take preventative measures or seek the heart of the problem.

Great post in general but at the moment, this is all I can think to reply to: No preventative measures are taken because our society -runs- off of these things. It's all about dat money. At least, that's what I think. And that's also just the US, I'm talking about. I have no knowledge on other countries.
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#5
It isn't too different here in Turkey, Piken. Consuming and consumerism; along with that, the system and society runs off of the way things are now.

As for emotions? People seek to satisfy their emotional needs; but instead of doing that with fulfilling and satisfactory means, they seek sudden - and fake - rushes. When they come down from their emotional highs, they feel empty. Instead of working - working - for a more fulfilling and satisfying way to make one's self happy, they seek more highs. And so it goes.
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#6
I remember a discussion I had with some friends a while back about how modern technology has killed the dinner party. It was a two-fold discussion, on tech keeping people from the dinner table, and also people bringing tech to the dinner table, so even when we sit down together, it's with the distraction of answering a smartphone every time a Facebook status or text comes in instead of having fully-attentive conversations. So in essence, we've become a society too distracted to enjoy the simple things as much as before.

It also reminds me of an article I read that stated so much time is spent on the web now that the art of dealing with people in person is being lost. I notice this -a lot- at my job, where the divide between the older generations (25 and up) and the younger ones (20 and under) is apparent. And that age difference seems small, but many times it's the difference between someone who lived for a time without all the mobile technology/fast internet and had an outdoorsy, play in the mud, roughhouse with friends childhood, and someone who grew up mostly behind a computer screen. The outdoors kids learn to handle other people, and when problems arise, they are more likely to stick through it and find a solution. That's not to say all older generation know how to deal with people, or all younger generation do not, but I have noticed a difference.
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#7
Is there a way to describe what intense emotion is? Because I am not sure if having disdain for the winter or revering the spring is something that is an intense emotion, or just how people felt for something. I usually think it's something overwhelming.

I've been very prone to anxiety attacks and I do not find anything beneficial to intense emotions. They have lead to things like violently lashing out at people around me and blackouts. Often my body temperature spikes from it and my chest gets tense. Sometimes I wonder if I'll get a stroke or it'll kill me, and it can happen from things spanning "this guy picked on me," to "I can't get to the water fountain and they're blocking the way." It feels like an adrenaline rush, and I don't really think there's anything healthy about this.

But I don't know if you're talking about strong feelings, or things like anxiety, rage, and the feelings that can cause a physical reaction to our body.

Quote:And on the topic of emotion, I think that being able to watch movies and browse the internet all the time causes some of us to be desensitized to things such as shock, violence, and even empathy.

I think we're fed a lot of unrealistic violence but I do think the people before us had to see way more than what we've had today and it became normalized. History has been brutal and bloody. Even if we aren't dealing with human on human violence, there was at least the necessity to have to kill and clean the animals you were going to eat. I've done that before with a fish as a kid and it seems rather easy to accept what it looks like to see a body cut up (as long as it's not a person).
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#8
I had an interesting discussion about this with a friend. We came up with a number of potential hypotheses, but the most resounding (to me, at least) one linked physical and mental image with the issue of technological isolation.

People are being exposed (via the media, television, internet) to all sorts of ideals. Physical idealism, both in aspects that a person can change, such as their weight and clothing, and aspects that they're unable to change (without resorting to radical measures), like race, colour, height, and the appearance of particular (often sexualised) parts of their anatomy.

Invariably, people measure one another 'at a glance'. First impressions are important, and the visual aspect of an encounter is generally at the forefront of consideration. People typically dress up to go out. We're also told that eye contact is important (though some would argue that it's an offensive or dominating gesture) and encouraged to shake hands, pat shoulders, hug friends and physically connect with those around us. In this world of 'likes' and 'dislikes', the dizzying height of entertainment reaps the full radiance of the sun from the top of the tree whilst the lower echelons (of which I suppose 'indie' and the unblooded comprise) scrabble for a glimpse of light. The law of nature in capitalism. The fat get fatter. Fame is success and success is fame. ...Bitter as it sounds, I'm just providing a commentary, here!

There seems to be an increasing number of people in this generation (rising in the one below) who either fear or have no interest in social activity on a physical level, though. Perhaps, due to sensationalised ideals such as those I mentioned above, they either feel that they have no right or no place to partake in it. There are also the asocial, who simply don't care for the likes of it, image and appearance be damned. This isn't necessarily a new or recent phenomenon, though. It's just taken a new form. Recluses and hermits have always existed in human society, and throughout history, they've generally been shunned. Actually, neither of us could think of many examples where a person who chose to live on the fringes was thought highly of unless they were doing so in support of some cause or other! 'Loner' carries negative connotations, even if entertainment's made it into some kind of cool stereotype - even then, the 'loner' character generally comes out of his shell and learns about the joys of trust. I digress, though...

The internet has disposed with many of the painful, scary aspects of social interaction, giving the shy and lonely an outlet through which they may safely interact with other sentient beings. No one could deny the infinite other uses for the internet, but this is certainly one. The jury's still out on whether it's this is progress or regression. On the one hand, is it right to passively lower self-esteem and then deride those who retreat into the arms of security? On the other, isn't it admirable to see someone standing up, overcoming their fears, and giving the norm the proverbial finger? Should we be urging people to overcome their fears or to find ways to live without ever needing to face them?

The floor's yours, thinkers.
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#9
The only problem with the internet giving that outlet to people, is that it fosters the awkwardness of real life interactions. The more and more you condition yourself to being a faceless, toneless person, the more and more secure you become with "trimming the fat" so to speak, and you don't try to improve on these.

People become less worried about the "at first glance" ideal, not taking care of their own self images or concentrating on the ways they speak.

Personally, when talking face to face with me, I often carry a smile, chuckle awkwardly, or just have a hard time speaking in general. You wouldn't think that about me if you were just judging me by what I post here because here I'm able to vocalize in written form, instead of my usual derping face to face with someone in which I get responses of cocked eyebrows or become just plain ignored.



It's a sad fact of life, heh, but I don't think that communicating through the internet is -always- a good thing. It can really shelter you.



Edit: Plus, you can't edit a vocal conversation. God, I really, really wish you could. Probably would have made dating so much easier as a kid, haha.

*Rensin edits out the stuttering for a whole ten seconds, replaces with "Hey baby, wanna see a movie?".
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#10
How do you think it affects jobs and businesses? A lot of entry level work involves being right there on ground level with customers and clients. We pondered whether or not it might have anything to do with why unemployment rates are so steep (here in the UK, at least) in the younger generation bracket.

I mentioned physical ideals up there, but I think there are a lot of expectations when it comes to how people behave and present themselves, too. I wonder how far you can really go to change those aspects of yourself. Just a matter of practice and confidence, I s'pose.

As regards the actual topic of this thread, desensitisation, is it necessarily a bad thing in moderation? There are times when you wouldn't really want people to be too shocked to dive in and help, such as in the case of an accident or someone being attacked in the street. I can't imagine a worse feeling than watching people stand by while you're in peril. On the flip side of this, you could argue that some people are so highly influenced that they're not above the notion of killing another person on a whim, but I like to think that people save more lives than they take.
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#11
As someone who's overweight? Yep, it's hard. I know people judge me based on appearance, too. It's funny though, because it's not a self esteem issue---I have confidence in myself. It's just more about other's perception, which sucks. *Shrugs*


When it comes to altering my own appearance, I have a hard time. It's very difficult to give up what's easy for what's right, and is always something I struggle with especially in regards to my own weight. Salad? Or Nachos? Playing on the computer for a couple hours, or going outside and jogging, getting myself all sweaty and tired? My mind tells me "What, are you stupid? Running sucks! What's the benefit there?!" because I am completely unable to fathom the benefits unless the result is instant. Like, I expect running for an hour one day that I'll wake up thin.

As for desensitization being a good thing? Dunno. I'm pretty desensitized, and I think in some situations I'd -still- find it way too real for me to deal with. Panic attacks would ensue. QUICKLY too.

I couldn't imagine having to deal with the crap that happened in Boston. I don't -want- to imagine.
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#12
Could Desensitization of Taste and Emotion be Linked to Modernization?

If we're talking about the sense of taste? Then yes, it very much can be. Food in a modern society is far from the way it was before, with all the chemicals that are pumped into in in order to make it taste better, smell better and be bought more. Without all this stuff added to the food, everything would just be...bland. If you use a lot of salt, try eating your meals without it. I started to do this and quickly found out that nothing tasted as good as it did before...but on the flip-slide...because it was blander, I didn't eat as much of it.

If we're talking about 'taste' as in what someone likes, then also yes. The media flat out tells us what is 'in' for a season as far as colors, clothing and what sort of behavior is acceptable, which also, conveniently enough, comes into the emotional aspect.

Do i think emotions have become dulled as a result of Modernization? It's kind of a two way answer because in one way, they have been, but in another way, they haven't been. For many, the emotions are still there but we express them in...different ways.

The media has warped the perspective on how emotions should be perceived and handled, and for people who grow up with the media all around them, it starts to create a mask that they have to wear so they can be 'socially acceptable'. Why do people fight the urge to cry so much when they're upset? Because its considered girly and weak. Why do people no longer find outlets for their rage? Because then they're considered violent and brash. So what do we do?

We hide behind a mask so that we are what everyone says we should be. We conform, we put things on the back-burner and bring the 'right' things to the front of our minds. As much as we're told to break away from the well-traveled path, we're all herded down the same road in education because 'this is what the employers want'.

Yeah, I can say as much as I like that I don't care what others think, but that's a bold-faced lie to myself and those around me. I do care, I care far too much. I care to the point where I hide behind the internet because I can be as strong as I want here and no one will be none the wiser to the 'man behind the curtain'. I care to the point where I physically start to shake when a stranger speaks to me and, if I'm not careful, I fall into an anxiety attack. We build these masks up for so long that eventually, we can't even tell the difference between what we really feel and what we're -supposed- to feel. I don't think we're desensitized so much as we are ignoring what is there in favor of what another might think of us.

In high school, you get pushed into choosing a career for yourself before you know what you want. The teachers then try to mold you into the 'perfect' employee because their focus is to get you ready for the future. Expressing yourself becomes bad, acting a certain way becomes back because it's not about what -you- want, it's about what the world wants. The same ones telling you to be yourself are the same ones telling you that sitting that way will look bad at an interview.

Talk about whiplash.

I think I've ranted enough here. In short: I don't think we're desensitized so much as we are wearing a mask to be 'proper'. This mask, in turn, becomes so hard to pry off that we're not even sure on what our real emotions are anymore.
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#13
This discussion is quite productive. The 'emotion' I was originally talking about has to do with both ends of the spectrum, between good emotions and bad emotions. Though I think at this point, we're all talking about how modernization has impacted the human condition and not just the specific things that I was pointing out. This is a good thing.

(05-14-2013, 12:24 AM)Dae Wrote: The flipside, of course, is that one is overexposed to a concept or experience and, if formerly enjoyable, is perceived as too formulaic.

This is what I was thinking about on the topic of desensitization. A part of the process has to do with observing and experiencing something, and after repetition of this the mind understands the pattern and isn't thrown into any state of excitement, pleasure, surprise, fear, what have you. The opposite reaction to this is, as Wuvvums has described above, is such a state of anxiety that one becomes panicked and the body reacts in the worst of ways. I understand very well that a panic attack comes with such intensity that the one suffering from it has the fear or feeling of an incoming death. So I think there are pros and cons when it comes to desensitization.

And truly, there is good that comes from modernization, and bad that comes from modernization. When I was a kid, I was rarely on the internet, since the AOL chatrooms didn't hold my attention for too long, so I did experience that outdoorsy childhood we all know and admire. However, once I was in the 8th grade or so, social media was exploding, and that was the period of time when I noticed that I didn't have any real life friends. Anonymity has given us the emotional safety to talk about the things we're too afraid of in real life, and this is often a productive thing. For example, it does a lot for the LGBT community. I myself live in the very thick of the Bible Belt and there's a lot of homophobia where I live, and not much of an LGBT community. So I've always sought refuge on the internet. And in doing so I have met a lot of amazing and interesting characters on the web that I frequently converse with. But at the same time I've found it harder to make friends in real life because the internet gives me access to people that better match my interests.

(05-14-2013, 07:30 AM)Jonoth Wrote: It also reminds me of an article I read that stated so much time is spent on the web now that the art of dealing with people in person is being lost. I notice this -a lot- at my job, where the divide between the older generations (25 and up) and the younger ones (20 and under) is apparent.

The divide can't truly be given numbers, since there are people older than 25 who have been on the internet for a long time, and people under 20 who rarely even use the internet. I think, in part, it has to do with access to computers and internet and how restrictive our parents were. I think people of all ages are susceptible to being sucked into an internet-based life.

I really want to respond to some of the things that Delta brought up because those were some very interesting points, but I have to take somebody somewhere.

Keep this discussion going! It's been very productive so far.
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#14
In reply to the first post, while desensitization can be fueled by how well off we are and how far away any problem can seem, studies show desensitization also occurs in the exact opposite scenario. In basic terms, a person or group that has been suffering for a long time would consider the suffering 'normal' and so be desensitized to their own plight. There are other examples but research articles can explore them better then I.

But desensitization is not an inherently bad thing. It would be rather difficult to live a healthy life if every time you heard someone had been killed or maimed you fell into depression. It is as the term suggests; the body desensitizes you to stimuli you are constantly exposed to so that you can concentrate on other stuff and not become overindulgent in any one emotion (this also applies to pleasure as well as sadness and empathy).

To reiterate, desensitization is a term that is not to be confused with consciously repressing stimuli... it is an unconscious process. It is not a result of modernization; modernization simply has us become desensitized to phenomena that we might otherwise not have before the invention of widespread media. And even that is arguable, as in the age of public execution and stocks to throw rotten fruit at people and where a peasant may die of a minor disease with no real medical help, desensitization may have also occurred (it would be similar to some of the poor and conflicting nations in the present world.)
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#15
Loss of taste and/or smell are very common symptoms of depression. And so is the general emotional desensitization.
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