Stop filming dead bodies: Society’s desensitization to death


Jacky Zeng

The public’s exposure to inappropriate posts regarding death is increasing like never before, raising moral concerns.

Since January 1st, there have been 38,755 gun violence fatalities in America, a number greater than the population of Morrisville. Death is not uncommon, but with the rise of social media, the public’s exposure to inappropriate posts regarding death is increasing like never before.

After news of his death, videos of the late rapper Kirshnik Ball, better known as Takeoff, began circulating on social media. The graphic post depicted Ball lying on the ground after suffering bullet wounds to his head and torso. His uncle and fellow bandmate, Quavious Marshall, can be seen crying out for others to get help. The video enraged many and elicited discussion on sharing such explicit images online. 

Social media has connected people in a plethora of ways, but when does such connection become a problem? Artists such as XXXTentacion, Nipsey Hussle, King Von, PNB Rock, and most recently Takeoff are only some of the famous names who have had their final moments filmed and published online. 

Videos depicting such gruesome deaths are not unique to celebrities. Ordinary people have had their last moments disgustingly posted for strangers on the internet to see. The constant exposure to death and lack of regard for the deceased slowly desensitizes an individual and once again presents the question: when does being connected become a problem? 

In today’s society, news is at one’s fingertips. People are constantly and consistently updated on mass shootings, wars, and all other catastrophes. With each horrifying notification, a person becomes more desensitized to the situation and others similar in nature. This numbness and apathy induces detrimental effects, causing people to become accustomed to violence and cruel behavior. Consequently, society has become caught in a pattern of recognizing such unsettling scenarios yet moving past them in seconds.

In September 2020, Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, sued Los Angeles county for inappropriately taking and sharing photos of human remains from the helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people. Those on the helicopter included her husband, Kobe, and their daughter Gianna. After the incident, attorneys for the families suing the county stated that their clients live in fear of the images reemerging.

Examples like this show how detached some have become from the horrid reality. The people in these videos and images are human. They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters. Having their final moments on display in such a dehumanizing manner is vile and heartless.

Although the men responsible for sharing the images of the helicopter crash were held accountable, others may never be. The distribution of such grim images does significant harm, damaging those closest to the victims. Desensitization causes a lack of empathy, a problem shown in the Bryant case and many others that go unreported.

Society has become too desensitized to death. Nobody’s last moments should be on display for the world to see, and humans owe it to the deceased and their loved ones to show decency in their times of mourning.