This is an interesting topic with the way that the media and world seems to be today. Sontag had two viewpoints on this, the first being that viewers become de-sensitized to images of war and death if they see too many. I am not sure about this actually. If we look at it in terms of the portrayal of women in the media, sure, we have become de-sensitized to scantily clad, thin women, however it has become deply embedded in the psyche of so many people (and children sadly) that this is the ‘way’ we should look. So while we aren’t shocked anymore at those images (as compared to when I was a kid in the 80’s) it has affected us in a deep way. One just has to look at the way young girls (toddlers even!) pose for photographs or the amount of eating disorders, bullying of kids who don’t fit the ‘norm,’ etc., to know that these unrealistic put out in particular by the American media, does in fact affect us deeply though on the surface we seem numb to it.
I would go as far to say that the problem here has more to do with ‘othering’ as opposed to becoming numb. For a large number of voters in my home country, the USA, some life is more important than others. So when they (yes, I am othering here as well) see images from Syria they are not as affected as they might be by images that come from a terror attack of a Muslim person on American people. Because it is closer to home an something they care and can relate to, the images are more meaningful and shocking than the ones they see coming from a place so far away with people they cannot relate to. I think the problem here is that people have become numb to the plight of others as opposed to being numb by an onslaught of too many images.
However, in one of the post-mass killing speeches that Obama has given, in his address after the mass shooting in Oregon, he stated that these shootings have become routine and normal for the American public. So going back to my original comment, I wonder just how routine these shootings really are. Sure, when we see yet another shooting on the news we are not as shocked, but I think the affect has a deep affect on the American public that has caused a deep divide on the country regarding gun laws, the Muslim community, ‘outsiders,’ etc., that while we seem ‘used’ to the images in fact the increase in terror in the ‘West’ has had a deep affect on the people there. Just look at Brexit and the rise of the buffoon Donald Trump.
I think this is a multi-faceted issue that depends deeply on context and perception.