Is the world actually a dangerous place?

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.




  1. communicationcubed · March 9, 2016

    You used some really clear examples in this post which connected well with the topic, and I was able to identify with it too. My parents are, in a way, the same because they watch a lot more of the news than I do, so it was great to see that I’m not the only one who has a similar situation đŸ™‚


  2. kirkdp1 · March 9, 2016

    I like your perspective on how media has changed from our parents generation. I hadn’t really considered the effect of the internet and social media as opposed to TV or print. Our culture really has relied less on the old forms of media and it has allowed us to escape at least a little from the Mean World Syndrome. Thoughtful post!


  3. annamabelblog · March 9, 2016

    My parents, too, mostly use the media to be informed about the news. They tend to read it off of multiple news sites though, and look for “good news” to offset what they’re reading about the “bad news”. Do you think that, in general, college students have a more optimistic view of the world than our parents?


  4. atandt22 · March 9, 2016

    I think it is interesting that you have a much different view than your mom and step-dad. I find that violent content is not only in tv and news but often in movies as well and you mentioned you watch netflix. Perhaps it is because they are older and have consumed much more of the violent media content.


  5. mariahsyre · March 9, 2016

    It seems like our parents’ generation is more entrenched in the news and, therefore, is more vulnerable to the Mean World Syndrome as it affects their worldview. In conversations I’ve had with my own parents, I’ve noticed that there are distinct differences in our views on international travel or even living in cities. It would seem that at the heart of these discrepancies is the difference in our media consumption.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s