Mean World Syndrome

The Illness Caused From Literally Watching Too Much TV

Introduction and Definition

Mean World Syndrome occurs when people watch so much negativity and bad news on TV that they magnify their fears of certain situations. People,therefore, believe that the world is actually more problematic than it actually is. The term "mean world syndrome" was coined by a man named Dr. George Gerbner. Dr. Gerbner held his doctorate in communications and was a very active journalist. As a result of constantly being highly educated and highly involved with the media, he was able to see how exactly it was able to affect the minds of others.

Symptoms, Characteristics and Proposed Hypotheses of the Causes

The symptoms and causes are as follows:


-people will buy guns suddenly and/or they will defend themselves instantaneously


-they will vote for political parties and candidates who promise a lot of safety


-people suffering from this will exaggerate their fears and concerns


- Can also lead to other mental conditions such as anxiety and depression

Consider the Graph Below:

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This Graph from Stats Canada shows a decreasing trend in crime over the past two decades(above)

Despite the fact that crime has decreased for the past 20 years in Canada, roughly 2/3rds of all people still feel that the amount of violence has increased. This is largely due to an increased coverage of crime made by the media instead. This is also a prime example of how people exaggerate their fears and concerns for the world.

Impact of Illness on an Individual's Life and on the Lives of Family Members

Impact of Illness includes the following:


-people become fearful of the world they live in and will suffer from anxiety or paranoia


-people can also become normalized or desensitized to the violence around them which can also cause a mob mentality or a reluctance to act among the masses when a violent act occurs


-more people with the mean world syndrome(which means more people desensitized to violence) pushes movie-making companies to make even more violent movies just to wet the appetites of those who have become desensitized to the previous amounts of violence in the media


-causes individuals to be paranoid/scared of other humans, even those close to them such as their family members


-can compromise the safety of others around the people afflicted. This was seen when statisticians found that there was an increase in the amount of guns sold after the events of 9/11

Support Systems and Community Programs Available for Treatment

Because Mean World Syndrome is more of a trait for a vast majority of a society and not so much a clinical diagnosis for individual persons, there really is no community program or support system for the illness.

On the other hand, because there is a clear link between the amount of media consumed and the amount of anxiety and fear an individual has, it is logical to assume that we can detoxify ourselves from the negativity in the media by simply limiting or shutting off our connection to bad news.

The Comic below shows how the media can consume our minds

Furthermore, the article where this picture came from states that binge watching TV is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety(these can be characteristics of mean world syndrome). It is, therefore, only logical to consume less Television so as to preclude the symptoms of Mean World Syndrome
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Works Cited(APA Format)


Nancy Signorelli, 4-28-2014, George Gerbner American Journalist, Encyclopedia Britannica, Retrieved 2015-12-14



2015-12-14, Canada's Decline Rate: Two decades of decline, Statistics Canada. Retrieved 20-12-14



George Gerbner Archive, Retrieved 2015-12-14, from URL: http://web.asc.upenn.edu/gerbner/archive.aspx?sectionID=18