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Friday, October 12, 2007

Overcoming Media Sensationalism: Finding Calm In A World Of Irrational Fears

Overcoming Media Sensationalism: Finding Calm In A World Of Irrational Fears

The media and the modern world both seem to be incredibly adept at inspiring fear and anxiety in people. Between reports of possible terrorist threats to the mundane possibility that your food could carry several bacterial infections, it can be very hard to find anything that can't be connected with something unpleasant. All of this paranoia and anxiety can sometimes take a toll on a person's mental health, even if the effects aren't particularly obvious. This serves quite an amazing contrast with some many people espousing the message of “living life to the fullest” filling the airwaves. Of course, nobody really seems to have paid that much attention to how, exactly, to carry that out in today's environment.

The fact is, there are a lot of things that can cause fear and anxiety in the world. However, it should be kept in mind that people have been living and dealing with those problems for thousands of years. Europe had to endure the widespread infection remembered as the “Black Plague” and eventually recovered. The Chinese have carried themselves well through the turmoil and self-destruction of countless periods when the country was divided into warring states. The honest truth here is that, for the sake of your mental health if nothing else, you should just try not to worry too much. There is a certain level of risk that is to be associated with pretty much anything, but that doesn't mean those things should not be done.

There is no argument that the media has some influence over the mental health of people, although just how much is something left to speculation. There are some that theorize that, with the right combination of fear and anxiety caused by the media and environmental conditions, people can become exceedingly paranoid. We've already seen a large number of people being swayed into conformity by the media, while those who are unable to begin to develop either social anxiety or status anxiety. However, as stated, the media is not the only factor in the formation of these problems. Other influences can be used to aggravate or counterbalance the influence gained from TV and video games, depending on certain circumstances.

People today should learn not to worry about things so much, particularly as so many of the threats the media talks about are highly unlikely. For example, you're less likely to get killed during a shark attack (like what you see in movies like “Jaws”) than you are to get hit by lightning. Incidentally, the anxiety people feel during a lightning storm is more or less unwarranted, as you're more likely to slip in the bathroom than be struck by lightning. Unless you were stupid enough to walk with some sort of lightning rod on you, anyway. If you take the time to study the chances of things happening, you'll realize that they're not all that common. Most people can go through their entire lives without anything disastrous or traumatizing happening to them, which makes the ones that do and survive such special cases.

That's exactly what the media is showing people, the special cases. If people getting hit by lightning or getting an infection of flesh-eating bacteria were as common as most people assumed, then there would be no point in reporting it in the news. Just because the media has fallen into bouts of sensationalism and would rather spread fear and anxiety than show a balanced report is their fault. For the sake of your mental health and the mental health of those around you, be sure to take the time to strike the balance.
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