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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Are We Desensitized to Viral Violence?

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Image credit: Facebook Live Stream

From police shootings to war zones, brutal images are commonplace in digital news media. Are we okay with that?

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Carl Taylor in studio in 2016Hillary Crawford/WDET
Hillary Crawford/WDET

Carl Taylor in studio in 2016

There’s a familiar cycle emerging when it comes to violent encounters between police and civilians: a hastily shot cell phone video—or maybe dashboard camera footage—goes viral immediately. A hashtag is born, and whether it’s Michael Brown or Philando Castile, we go on to encounter that video countless times throughout the news cycle. 

Now, users can even sign onto platforms like Facebook Live to broadcast any number of events in their lives, including violent encounters. Earlier this year, a teenaged girl was raped by a Facebook user broadcasting the assault live—and several viewers failed to call the police.

Carl Taylor, a sociology professor at Michigan State University, explores this new normal with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. 

 ”It reinforces stereotypes…and it’s something that doesn’t go away,” he says. “When you see members of a community being shot by each other sometimes, but in particular by law enforcement, it sends a very chilling effect.” 

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full conversation

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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