“More than 90% of all children are seriously frightened by the media at some point in their young lives”. (Cantor, 2009) The topic, media violence and fear, is a subsection of this week’s chapter of applying social psychology to the media. The quote in the beginning is where my interest was first piqued while reading through the chapter. It made me stop and reflect back on my own life. I asked myself, “What is the first memory I have of being terrified via the media?” The answer was easy, the date was September 11, 2001. I was born in ‘96 so I’m only 5 years old at the time, but it’s weird, I can still remember that day. It’s the day that everyone was watching the news. The people around me were frantically pacing back and forth, many people were in fits of tears. The medias reporting of the attack went on for many years to follow and struck fear and hate into people’s hearts. The media used scare tactics to make the people of America fear people who were different than them. After the attacks there was a major restructuring of security in the United States. An entire department was actually created as a response. The TSA or the Transportation Security Administration is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “It has authority over the security of the traveling public in the United States.” It’s 2018 now, almost 17 years later, the impact of that specific day still appears to be present. By that I mean I have witnessed many cases of pure profiling during my travels, meanwhile I’m never given a second glance. I can pass right through airport security so blissfully and no one ever considers me to be a terrorist. This particular example I’m using is just to reflect a little on the effect that day had. How the reports given by the media effected millions of people, not only American citizens! It also effected people who were traveling in the U.S. who were from other countries, it effected refuges who were attempting to seek safety with us. Many Americans became frozen with fear, thanks to not only the attack itself but also thanks to the way in which the media portrayed the devastation, this created fear in the hearts of citizens. Many people, however, myself included, did not let that tragic day control how we would live for the rest of our lives. I would not let that fear take over my feelings of empathy and caring for others. Contrary to the saying, “One bad apple spoils the bunch”, I believe that there will always exist a few extremists in a mass amount of people but that doesn’t mean that an entire population is bad. Hitler was very much so a bad apple, we can all agree on that, right? Do we think that because he was bad that means that all German people are bad too? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. There’s been a long list of disturbed and mentally unstable Caucasian American dudes going on shooting sprees in movie theaters, concerts, high schools and elementary schools, however none of us ever seem to fear the average every day typical white man. Why is it that when a white person causes terror amongst citizens they are always diagnosed to have mental issues but when it’s someone who has a different shade of skin then they’re considered to be a terrorist? The media often does not accurately report their findings in this way and it is an increasing problem that America is facing. It is causing more harm than good by instilling fear into citizens.
Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., and Coutts, Larry M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Second Edition. Sage.
Pennsylvania State University, World Campus (2018). PSYCH 424: Lesson 9: Media/ Communications Technology. Retrieved from CANVAS: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1924488/modules/items/23682616