The Mean World Syndrome is the idea that viewers who consume a lot of violent content from mass media believe that the world is a much more dangerous place than it actually is. This term was coined by George Gerbner, who studied this phenomenon in our culture. Specifically, he believes that people who watch more television tend to think the world as a violent and dangerous place.
I agree that people who consume more media, especially news on television, believe the world is a much more dangerous place. I think most specifically about my mom and step-dad. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but they both are constantly watching news on TV. I think it’s good that they want to be informed about what is happening locally, nationally, or internationally, but a lot of that information is predominantly negative. We as a society are bombarded with news about bombings, natural disasters, or criminals on the loose, in addition to a litany of other societal ills. I definitely believe that because my mom and step-dad watch a lot of news and essentially consume the highlights of humanity’s worst deeds they, in turn, hold the pessimistic view that the world is an extremely dangerous place. Honestly, how can you think the world is a nice, pleasant place when you’re being told about acts of terrorism in the Middle East, a hurricane that destroyed a foreign country or the levels of poverty in our own country? It makes sense to me that my mom and step-dad along with millions of other people hold this kind of viewpoint.
Unlike my mom and step-dad, as a college student, I use media mostly for communication and entertainment. More often than not, I use my phone to communicate with friends or family or as a distraction from my studies. If I’m using the internet, it’s either to go to Netflix or to google a concept for Cell Bio that I didn’t fully understand by reading the textbook. I rarely read newspapers or read about current events on the internet. I also never watch television, especially the news. My stance on the world, as a result, is much different than my mom’s and step-dad’s.