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A spirit that is not afraid

COLUMN | Is society becoming more tone deaf?

I’m 20 years old, that classifies me as Generation Z. 

Generation Z is very different from all of the other generations because we are growing up in a technology and social media era. It’s never been easier to get access to different information and content. 

This can be a good or unfortunate situation. Social media and news expose people to sensitive and graphic content. This could eventually cause users to become "tone-deaf" to serious situations the more normalized it is to see this content.

The ultimate question is if the news media causes active viewers to become tone-deaf.

I'm not talking about not being unable to perceive a musical pitch. 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines tone-deaf as "having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception, particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste."

There are times when I identify tone-deaf statements in the news or on social media. I wonder where this lack of sympathy for others comes from. 

In early January there was a trend on Tiktok where children would prank their parents by telling them that a famous celebrity had died. These reactions were going viral all over the platform and even spread to Instagram and Twitter. 

The prank served as a comedy for many until Andy Cohen, host of "Watch What Happens Live," expressed his anger with this trend. 

“For the last two weeks, people have been sending me videos of their loved ones telling them I’m dead, I have no desire to experience people’s reactions when I die,” Cohen said.

This social media trend is an example of society's tone deaf in not thinking about the impact faking someone’s death could have on the individual and the individual's family.

On Jan. 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was rushed to the hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest during a game. The sports world was turned upside down because, in the history of football, no one had ever seen this happen to a player before. 

Soon after the news was announced, a tweet from American sports columnist Skip Bayless went viral. 

The tweet read “no doubt the NFL is considering postponing the rest of this game-but how? This late in the season, a game of this magnitude is crucial to the regular season outcome… which suddenly seems so relevant.” 

Skip Bayless is one of the most popular and powerful Sports Analysts today. For him to make this statement is tone-deaf because he disregarded the fact that Hamlin was in critical condition and only focused on when the next game would take place.

In an article published by "The Week," Leslie Turnbull stated “Like actual tone-deafness, it can be addressed and fixed. Some social tone-deafness is more deliberately hypocritical and obtuse. The rest of us may wince, but we have no power to change the perpetrators because they really don't care to change their tune. The best we can do is band together, raise our voices in a proper and powerful pitch, and drown out the sour notes.” 

We as a society can be conscious and move forward in empathy and compassion. To fix being socially tone-deaf is to try and listen from different perspectives and show compassion for others. 

Compassion and empathy are showing care for others even if you don’t understand or can’t relate to what they're going through. Respect is very important to show in imperative conversations because it can prevent you from coming across as socially tone-deaf. 

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We are all human, and we all fall guilty about being tone-deaf in very sensitive moments. The best and most responsible thing to do is apologize and correct your actions. Continue to educate yourself on ways to not be tone-deaf in delicate situations.

The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors. 

These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees. 

Jakai Spikes | Writer

Jakai Spikes, senior in Journalism, is a writer at The Auburn Plainsman. 

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