Mean World Syndrome

People alive today have access to more news and entertainment than any human being in the history of the planet. If anything major happens in the world, we are all able to find out about it almost instantly. We’ve come a long way from the days when a hurricane could hit Long Island without any advanced warning for its residents. Surely that’s to our benefit, right?

Yes and no. We also have more access to misinformation and exaggeration, and our ability to think critically does not seem to be keeping apace. That means that many of us believe that the world is more dangerous than it actually is. This is called mean world syndrome, and it’s a serious problem.

If you don’t believe that your attitudes are shaped by the media, then you haven’t been paying attention. Without its influence, there’s no way that someone so deranged and unqualified could be in the White House. Without it, none of us would feel the need to keep up with the Kardashians. (For what it’s worth, I’ve never felt that need. But then, I don’t have a TV in my house, either.)

If it’s any comfort at all, according to this Public Radio International article, the world is a much safer pace than it used to be. War deaths have dramatically decreased. We just hear about them more often. We all work fewer hours each week. There is less poverty and homicide, and more democracy than ever before.

And this article from Psychology Today also states that violence against women and children has decreased worldwide. We are more likely to die of old age than in a hail of bullets.

And, lest we forget, the average life expectancy for the residents of this planet is now up in the 70’s, as opposed to age 48 back in 1950. That’s pretty remarkable, don’t you think? So stop what you’re doing, look about you, and breathe. It’s going to be okay. Odds are pretty good that you won’t encounter any lions or tigers or bears. Oh, my.

dorothy

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Why Do We Need Politicians Anymore?

The other day my dog jumped on me while I was in the middle of REM sleep. It felt like someone dropped a canned ham on me from a two story building. In retrospect perhaps it was a good thing, because it brought something to my conscious mind that had apparently been percolating in my subconscious. Under normal circumstances I’d have lost the thread of my dream-weaving upon awakening, but this was as if the door to my dream world was kicked in. By a canned ham.

Now bear with me, because this is a half formed theory, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

For centuries, it made sense to have politicians. In a world that was predominately rural, in a time when it took days to travel to city centers and months to get news, it was only logical to have people who would represent you when it came time to make critical governmental decisions. Back then, even the electoral college actually made sense. Imagine that.

But it’s a different world now. In this technologically advanced age, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t all weigh in directly on every single issue that matters to us. One person, one vote, every issue. We could do away with congress entirely. Heaven knows they haven’t been doing much of late in any case.

Think about it. No more years-long election campaigns. No more tedious and warped political advertisements. No more gerrymandering. No more bribes. No more sex scandals. No more ignorant misogynistic rants. No more adding pork to various issues to satisfy a powerful politician’s personal agenda. No more unfair balance of power. Every citizen would have an equal amount of power.

What it would do, unfortunately, is give even more influence to the biased news outlets, because everyone would be trying to sway your opinion before you weigh in on various issues. The misinformation would be flying thick and fast, even more so than it is today if that’s possible. You’d really have to do your homework, and I doubt many people would take the time to do so. They certainly don’t seem to now.

And we’d have to figure out a way to deal with computer hacking.

Like I said, this is a half formed theory. Heaven only knows how we’d pass a budget. But wait. We don’t seem to do that these days anyway.

Here’s the scary part about this concept, the part that will make you blink. In order to switch to this type of pure democracy, barring violent overthrow, we’d have to gain the cooperation of the politicians who are currently in office. They’d have to, effectively, vote themselves out of a job. And they wouldn’t. We have given them all our power, and there is no way that they’ll ever let it go. No way.

I don’t know about you, but I find that rather terrifying.

congress

The Misinformation Movement

The other day I was perusing Youtube and I came across this video called The Eyeball Collector:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdaJRJFMty8

It says in capital letters, TRUE CRIME CASE, so I was taken in for a split second. But, as I’ve written in a recent blog entry, I am a bit of a sick puppy, so surely in all my twisted web searches I’d have come across a little girl who likes to collect eyeballs. I mean, how could I have missed that? So I did a Google search, and sure enough, the ONLY hit is for this guy’s video. And not a thing on Wikipedia, either.

I decided to look into this guy’s list of other videos. A lot of “TRUE CRIME CASES” popped up. These included “The Killer Santa”, “The Spam Murders”, “The Sofa Corpse”, and “The Lesbian Bride Murder”. Actually, they’re worth a peek, because once you figure out they’re bogus, they’re kind of fun to watch. The guy’s got the kind of warped imagination that appeals to me. But what disturbs me are the comments. People actually fall for this stuff! They think they’re true. He could have advertised them as jokes, and I’d still have watched them, and I would have had much more respect for him.

The thing is, this is becoming more and more of a trend. It’s so easy to communicate with the world these days that people with questionable integrity are taking advantage of it. We saw that, in particular, with Hurricane Sandy. Some bozo decided to tell the world that the New York Stock Exchange was under 3 feet of water, and that spread quickly through Facebook and Twitter, and before all was said and done, it was even reported on CNN. If it had been true, it could have had worldwide financial implications, so spreading that kind of bs is, at best, irresponsible.

I have even found myself unintentionally participating in the misinformation movement. I once posted a link to Sokoblovsky Farms on my Facebook page. For the uninitiated, this was a really cute prank web page for a supposed miniature giraffe farm. It even had a “live” webcam of its “petite lap giraffes”.

Petite Giraffe baby

I thought it was cute and funny, but I never in a million years expected that people would BELIEVE that there are actually miniature giraffes out there. Within 24 hours, half my friends list was desperately searching for a way to own one! Good grief. I had to explain, and then I felt horrible about disappointing them. It kind of makes you wonder about the gullibility of the internet viewing public. Now if you do a search of Sokoblovsky Farms, what you find is a lot of links to people asking “Does this place really exist?” So sad.

There are generations of adults now who have lived with the internet their whole lives. I fear that that will engender in them an unhealthy level of trust in this type of media. It takes a lot of effort to double check every fact you come across, but please, at the very least, go to www.snopes.com or www.factcheck.org before spreading misinformation. Not a week goes by without my receiving some hysterical, cautionary and FALSE e-mail in my inbox, which I am able to debunk through Snopes in a matter of seconds, but when I point this out to the sender, I rarely see them sending out a follow up e-mail that says, “oops…”.

Misinformation is easy to spread. I’d like to think most of it is unintentional. But it has to originate somewhere. If you’re an originator, thanks for the laughs, but SHAME on you.