We Live in a Mean World, Should you be Afraid?

September. 30, 2019 – Matthew Toner

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash
Is Social Media Affecting your Perception of the World?

The world can be a scary place. When you scroll down your feed whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. you’ve doubtlessly come across reports of terrorism, accidents, scandals along with innumerable other horrifying events taking place around the world, or even in your own area. It may feel overwhelming at times, but should you be scared?

With the rise of social media came a new wave of mediums to share and spread the many notable events taking place as they happen. As such, news sources have changed dramatically in the past 30 years. News used to be primarily consumed in the form of news papers, and eventually news channels, which were (and still are) the subject of heavy gate-keeping. Nowadays with online forums and individual run pages it’s becoming harder for institutions and corporations to choose what gets shown to the general public. Pages such as r/watchpeopledie (since quarantined) allowed users to upload video of, you guessed it, people dying. Larger news channels tend to have regulation preventing such types of footage from being aired.

Source: Forbes

As such, this type of content has led to a rise in the ‘Mean World Syndrome’, a concept introduced in the Cultivation Theory by G. Gerbner:

“Cultivation theory states that high frequency viewers of television are more susceptible to media messages and the belief that they are real and valid. Heavy viewers are exposed to more violence and therefore are affected by the Mean World Syndrome, the belief that the world is a far worse and dangerous place then it actually is.”

Source: MassCommTheory

In reality, despite what social media may lead you to believe, it is EXTREMELY unlikely you are going to be injured or killed by a terrorist attack. As proven in this article by Andrew Shaver for the Washington Post (2015):

You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist

Source: Andrew Shaver – Washington Post
November 23, 2015

So what should you take away from this? The world is a big, scary, unpredictable place… But you shouldn’t be afraid. Instead of filling other’s feeds with the negative events of today, I invite you to share something positive that happened in your world today with #PositiveWorld, and help bring awareness of the wonderful aspects of our shared world.

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