October 27, 2007

So That's Why I'm So Paranoid...

"Good reporting about risk addresses those issues; yoo often, bad reporting only encourages us to live fearfully ever after" (131).

It's really no surprise that we can blame the media (if we're playing the blame game which I think It Ain't Necessarily So is doing) for turning is all into paranoid hypocondriacs. Every time you turn around, there's another warning about some health related issue, like sneezing will cause balding or that all rain is now acid rain and will slowly eat away your flesh if it touches you. They are sensational and overexaggerated, but highly effective.

Chapter 5 uses the example of increased awareness of breast cancer as an instance of how the media is doing less to educate us about the potential risks of the disease and more to scare women into thinkint they are the next to contract it. I read countless articles in news sources (online, news magazines, etc) about how pretty much everything is going to cause breast cancer one day. Hormones? Yep. Food? Yep. Pesitcides? Yep. Blinking? Yep.

There comes a time when the media has scared us into believing the worst that we just stop listening. It's sort of like "the little boy who cried wolf" scenario- the more the media tries to scare us about diseases, the more we tend to not believe it. However, one day a story will break that will actually be mostly true (I'm not saying the media makes up the risks- they just overexaggerate them) and, sadly, no one will bother listening.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at October 27, 2007 2:49 PM | TrackBack

You're absolutely right. Maybe the news has constantly plyed us with exagerated stories that we've simply become numb to it all. We just do our best to try and not become one of those said stories. I really liked your analogy to the Little Boy who called Wolf story, it fit perfectly.

Posted by: Maddie Gillespie at October 28, 2007 1:24 PM

I feel the same way, pretty much anything you can do is going to harm you in some way. I have friends who don't want to have children because they are afraid they are that 1 in a million who will have a baby that has an extra head. When does the madness STOP!!!

Posted by: Bethany Merryman at October 28, 2007 2:45 PM

My best friend scared me into thinking I was going to get HPV and I needed the shot that wouldn't even half my chances but make my chances less by a little. Until of course I went to the doctors with a lot of questions and some good answers such as, there is only a very small amount of people who have gotten it, the chances are one in a million, and the shot doesn't protect you nearly at all, it just cost's a lot and is basically worthless. But my friend insists that my doctor is wrong and that I should get checked up on for this and that bacause her cousin got this or her grandma had that...iv'e learned to not pay attetnion anymore. But what happens when there is a real crisis? Will I beleive it?

Posted by: Carrie Kraszewski at October 28, 2007 3:33 PM

Carrie, the same thing happened to me with my mother. She made both me and my sister get Guardasil shots. As if my severe fear of needles wasn't enough, the HPV vaccine is in three rounds! Every month this summer, I had to go back to the doctor's office for yet another shot. Those things hurt for about a week. (Due to my severe fear, I tried to make a run for it all three times...didn't make it to the door). People like my mother are the ones who panic immediatly after hearing stuff like this on the news. We are told so much stuff is going to cause doom if we don't counter-act it with something else. Pretty soon, we will not know what to believe anymore. Panic is an effective solution, but it is necessarilt the best method to inspire action in people?

Posted by: Daniella Choynowski at October 28, 2007 6:09 PM

I think that from the time we are a child-(Satan/Santa Claus) we are forced into behavior out of fear (hell/no Christmas presents, so we are normed to this idea of fear, and we grow older the fear either grows or subsides, but the idea lingers. Throw in some sketchy numbers, and the backing of print/tv news and you have either rediscovered/uncovered some fear. We are a society afraid of our shadows-why is this surprising?

Posted by: Mitchell Steele at October 29, 2007 7:22 AM

"Panic is an effective solution"

In the short term, perhaps... but just like the advertising industry, which makes money by 1) making you unhappy or dissatisfied with your life 2) selling you their product so that you can be happy again, journalism that causes anxiety in the public can be part of an unholy alliance with the media source. Think of how many times a TV weather reporter (they're not all meteorologists) has told you to stay home and keep watching TV so you can be updated on the progress of the weather. The TV is a source of comfort and strength, and we're supposed to love it so that we believe it when it tells us that this brand of soap or this make of car or this political candidate will solve all our problems. As we noticed in an exercise early in the term, the content of TV journalism aims for emotional impact more directly than print journalism, but as IANS shows us, any medium can be manipulative.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 29, 2007 8:38 AM

I totally agree. Everything you do in life forms some type of risk. Even the everday things. Driving HUGE RISK. I mean even walking around can cause a risk. I mean you could stub your toe or something you just never know?

Posted by: Maria Pezzuti at October 29, 2007 8:53 AM

I agree with Maria. Everything is a huge risk nowadays. The media has blown it out of proportion, and it's usually because 2 or 3 cases of something happen, and then it's this huge epidemic. Eating. HUGE RISK. Trick or Treating. HUGE RISK. AHHH. When there actually is a huge outbreak of a virus, when are we going to know? :(

Posted by: Corey Struss at November 1, 2007 10:45 PM
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