Mean World Syndrome

The above video is an interview with Michael Morgan who was involved in a recent documentary about violence in media. I just finished watching the documentary. It’s well done, but I was already familiar with some of the general analysis because of other documentaries (such as: The Power of Nightmares). I wish such documentaries had wider viewing. The challenge is that media promoting violence sells better than media criticizing violence.

My only criticism of this documentary was that it demonstrated the effect of violence in media, but it didn’t fully explore why the media focuses so much on violence. There is more to it than just the public likes violence and those producing media are simply seeking profit. I don’t think it’s accidental a world of fear is created by media of violence. Those in power (media owners and politicians) want a world where people live in fear and want a public that is divided because that maintains and increases their power. The mainstream media, as Chomsky and others have pointed out, follows a propaganda model. To be fair, the organization that put out this documentary has other videos touching upon this issue (see: The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News).

Documentary available here:

Transcript of documentary:

Wikipedia page about Mean World Syndrome:

Here are some video extras from the documentary:

Here are some other related videos also by Challenging Media:

4 thoughts on “Mean World Syndrome

  1. An important topic and interesting post. I don’t know if I’d say that the media intentionally wants us to be fearful. If that is a motivation, I bet it’s an unconscious one. Pure Evil (and that would be more blatantly evil) is rare, which is somewhat the point of your post.

    • It’s not clear how much this system was created intentionally and consciously. It could be an unconscious motivation. Either way, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy per se. I just think our idealization of individualism and rational self-interest encourages people to act in their own interest (and in the interest of their own group or class).

      Part of what I had in mind is the research that shows people become more socially conservative when their is social stress and uncertainty. During such times, people are more trusting of authorities. So, if you’re an authority who wants to maintain your position and increase your power, it will be natural for you to act (consciously or unconsciously) to create an atmosphere of fear and conflict.

      I’m fairly cynical. I don’t know if my analysis is correct, but I honestly don’t know how else to explain the way our society became like this.

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