Don’t let a TV screen make you live a life of fear. Be thoughtful participants, not passive consumers, in your culture. Create something. Improve something. Maybe yourself. Maybe the Wikipedia page for your hometown. Share your creation. Encourage and appreciate and critique and applaud what those in your community have created. Increase the sum total of good things in the universe by participating in the life around you.
Heavy TV viewers, at all income levels and all races, reported high fear of crime. Gerbner dubbed this phenomenon the “mean world syndrome,” as television caused people to view the world as a mean and dangerous place. But, what’s particularly interesting is that the largest “mean world” effects were among those citizens whose real lives were startlingly crime-free. Television complicated their otherwise untroubled and privileged realities. | When Gerbner was conducting this research in the 1980s, most Americans got their news from daily newspapers or network news programs. The elite news gatekeepers determined what the public ought to hear. But today’s digital technologies never end. Nor are they controlled by journalists or professionals. Instead, they are the tools of the unruly, emotional masses. —Atlantic