Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
After a long day of work, you sit back and watch a bit of TV. You come across the news channel and decide to catch up on today’s headlines. You sit there while you watch updates about coronavirus, brexit and more coronavirus.
The news finishes and thinking nothing of it, you now go on your phone. Instinctively, you first click on Facebook. The news feed pops up with the most popular video/post which may be of interest to you. You have no new notifications, but spend 30 minutes watching compilation videos of people doing random shit, maybe with their animals. You’ve caught up with Facebook, now you focus your attention on Instagram and see a bunch of ‘influencers’ with their great bodies and must-have lifestyles. Then you move on to YouTube…
Before you know it, its been 1/2 hours of mindlessly scouring the internet and you go about the rest of your evening feeling no different. But has there really been no change?
With the boom of the internet in 1983, we are now living in the Information Age. People are connected like never before and information can be transmitted globally. We’ve gone from the telegraph to the television. From the desktop to the smartphone. Imagine if you had a pesky question in your mind about some trivial subject and you needed to go to a library to potentially find out the answer? The modern day library has been shortened to just one search bar.
With the invention of search engines such as Google, information is readily available to you 24/7. Our phones are now extensions of our minds. A giant leap forward for our knowledge. It would have taken a tremendous amount time to gather information or even plan a journey. Being connected allows us the opportunity to combine our intellect with the vastness of the cyberworld.
The News has kept us up to date with common topics such as war, politics, the environment etc. Social media took it the next step further in our connectivity by allowing us to see the lives of majority of the planet. The problem is the news and social media has a huge impact on how we view the world and the people inhabiting it.
The News – What impact is it having?
When you read one report or follow the events covered by the news, the way it has been presented has a profound effect on how you would view that topic going forward. A study was published in 2014 by Alison Holman and colleagues from the University of California about the media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013. They compared the impact of direct vs indirect media-based community trauma exposure on acute stress responses.
An internet-based survey was completed on 4675 participants from the USA. People who watched six or more daily hours of bombing-related media exposure in the week reported higher acute stress than direct exposure. Repeatedly engaging with trauma-related media content after collective trauma may prolong acute stress experiences. Follow this link for the report published by Holman and colleagues.
The news is infamously known for covering topics which promote fear. Let’s take headline number 8. “Hundreds missing after Nigeria school attack”. Reading the article, a seed will be planted within your subconscious. Your brain will have created a fear based association with Nigeria. Just like with the above study, it’s important to acknowledge these events, but are we perpetuating the fear, which will be brought up again if a similar event happens in the future?
I did one week of live in care for a client and his father always had the news on in the background. I was exposed to more than 10 hours a day. It was mostly covering the US election between Trump and Biden. I distinctly remember I’d have conversations with the father about the election and I noticed all of my opinions were based on what I heard from the news.
Even Trump’s supporters were rallying against the poll stations as he suggested that there had been miscounts. Without any evidence to back him up, people were still so ready to believe him just because he said so. Information doesn’t have to be authentic to become people’s truth.
When you don’t have prior knowledge of something, what you hear on the news starts to become your representation of a topic. If you take a moment to think about that, it has the power to shape a whole nation’s point of view.
Social Media – “i hope this gets likes”
The reason people will share information on social media will be one of following:
- To support a cause or issue they feel strongly about
- Share valuable information
- Use social sharing to build an image and demonstrate who they are and what they stand for
- To interact, grow, get a sense of fulfilment, nurture relationships and stay in touch with others
- To participate and feel involved in things happening in the world.
One of the great benefits of social media is that it gives a voice to everyone. When society faces a dilemma, it brings people together to support a cause and create change. This brings large awareness, especially for people who do charitable events, like 100 year old Sir Tom Moore who raised over £40 million for NHS healthcare workers during lockdown by walking laps of his garden. The beautiful side of humanity!
However, for every bit of good, there’s a giant patch of shit. Instagram has been criticised for giving users a false representation on how one should look and live. Mental health has been at risk as it gives people the impression that they aren’t good enough and causes an inferior complex. In this context, inferior by feeling they are lacking the status Instagram influencers portray.
It is dangerous to use social media for building an image to demonstrate who you are because it can mislead your values on what is being liked rather than what you really believe. Just like with news corporations, if you don’t have prior knowledge of something and you see a popular opinion shared/liked multiple times, it is going to become your representation of a topic.
For an in depth look at the pros and cons of social media, follow this link.
I feel like a conspiracy theorist, urging you guys to wear tin foil hats on your heads to keep you safe from your phone reading your mind; but the media undoubtedly has an effect on the human psyche. Coronavirus is a threat to humanity, but the way the media has been constantly throwing it in our face is unbearable. I’ll follow government guidelines but I refuse to watch updates. If I get coronavirus, that is just the way it is.
Terrorist acts, immigrants dying, fires, deaths, criminals, CLIMATE EMERGENCY! Why does the news remind us how shit the world is? It’s going to sound cheesy, but we honestly need stories that promote love and compassion, not about people being stressed out about returning home from holiday. But alas, good news doesn’t spread nearly as much as bad news. But if want to move forward, we should stop focusing on how fucked everything is and start embracing the beauty and wonder of the universe.
I think it’s important to be up to date with the current events surrounding the world but we have to be conscious on the effect it is having on us. For all the benefits these platforms are giving us, there is an equal amount of issues which have risen. We may end up relying too much on the media and not trusting our own instincts.
Thanks for reading this article! I barely scratched the surface with how deep the influence goes, but let me leave you with a video to make you smile. Subscribe below for more content.
As always, sending peace and love through the 4th Dimension!