It seems to me that recently we have been bombarded with pain, suffering and fear on a global level. The media has always been known for its sensationalism and focus on hot news stories of substance abusing celebrities, war in third world countries and the ever present fear of terrorism on our own soil, but has the sensationalism gone too far? Are we being over exposed by these traumatic events? It is not to say that we should hide our heads in the sand and believe that all is good in the world or allow ourselves to become desensitized, but have you ever wondered if all the TV, radio and internet coverage is having a negative effect on our mental health?
I’ve recently read a very interesting study from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Center for PTSD on the stress reactions of adults and children who witnessed the terror attacks of September 11th and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
The paper’s report concludes:
"Clearly the media plays a critical role in the aftermath of a traumatic event. The media provides needed information, makes announcements, and gives instructions regarding services that are available to victims and their families. They are a resource for the community and can provide a source of hope. However, too much trauma-related television viewing may have a negative impact, especially on children."
"So not only are negatively valenced news broadcasts likely to make you sadder and more anxious, they are also likely to exacerbate your own personal worries and anxieties."
I've also found that the August 8, 2014 article What All This Bad News Is Doing to Us by reporter Jesse Singal published in NYMAG.com continues this discussion and takes a realistic stand on the idea that while we can’t just ignore these types of events in the news we must find a balance between reading and over reading.
"Overall, of course, it’s both unrealistic and undesirable to construct bubbles that keep out the world’s bad news. But there’s a difference between being informed and being obsessive, and it’s a line that’s very easy to accidentally slide across in an age when there’s so much scary information zipping around."
But what do you think? The experience, be it traumatic or not, is uniquely our own. Do you think that constant stream of brutality, war, famine, fear and terrorism is having a negative effect on you and your family? Could it be having an unconscious psychological impact?