Our Dark Side

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Our Dark Side

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"Get in touch with your dark side," urges Toyota in an ad for the Matrix VCAM.

"Go ahead, indulge your dark side," Nestle says of its dark chocolate caramel Treasures.

Marketing experts know there's something strangely appealing about the dark side of human nature—and they are capitalizing on it.

Our Dark SideGoth and Halloween

One example of this strategy is the successful promotion of Goth characters such as Emily the Strange that are rapidly gaining popularity with preteens. As Karyn M. Peterson of Playthings magazine reports, "Fuzzy zombie teddy bears wielding weapons, cuddly-yet-creepy skeletal pets, designer dolls with ghostly death-mask faces—toys and collectibles like these that embrace dark (and even macabre) themes...are increasingly finding younger and younger fans."

Another example is the annual marketing blitz surrounding Halloween. According to Businessweek, "Halloween is the second-biggest holiday behind Christmas in home-decorating sales, and the sixth-biggest retail holiday for overall sales." Between all the parties, TV shows and special events that accompany this holiday, themes of fear and death have now become normalized as entertaining traditions.

Desensitizing games

Does popularizing evil desensitize us to the true nature of the human heart?

A 2007 Iowa State University study of video game players found that even brief exposure to violent media has a measurably desensitizing effect. The authors of this study expressed the following concerns regarding the way popular media is presented to the public over our lifespan:

"Children receive high doses of media violence. It initially is packaged in ways that are not too threatening, with cute cartoon-like characters, a total absence of blood and gore, and other features that make the overall experience a pleasant one, arousing positive emotional reactions that are incongruent with normal negative reactions to violence. Older children consume increasingly threatening and realistic violence, but the increases are gradual and always in a way that is fun. In short, the modern entertainment media landscape could accurately be described as an effective systematic violence desensitization tool."

Desensitization often starts when we are very young, whether through the surrounding culture and related media or via family experiences. This may lead to a decreased appreciation—or even subtle acceptance—of the evil and all too typical violence that permeates the world such as:

  • The attack that occurred in Beijing just after the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
  • The practice of slavery—still a problem all over the globe.
  • Terrorist plots to overthrow entire national or religious cultures.

Cure for a sick heart

How dangerous is our world to us? The common thread among these and other evils we see today is a sick heart—and we're all vulnerable to infection.

"Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed" (Jeremiah 17:9, Good News Bible).

God says we all have the capacity to deceive ourselves into thinking good is evil, and evil is good. That's a frightening revelation. Given the right circumstances, we have the ability to commit evil and justify doing so. If we desensitize to the point that we can no longer recognize evil, is it possible that we, too, could become agents of evil instead of just spectators?

Our Creator warns us to carefully guard the thoughts and motives of our heart to avoid falling prey to self-deception. With His help and careful vigilance as to what we allow into our minds, we can prevent the dark side of the human heart from controlling our destiny.

To find out more about how to overcome your dark side, read "The Battle for Your Mind." VT