For better, or worse
Following on from Facebook’s recent “psychological experiment” (see more information here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2679115/Facebook-finally-apologises-secretly-manipulating-nearly-1m-peoples-accounts-huge-psychology-experiment.html) I think it’s quite important to recognise the impacts that things do actually have on our day to day lives. I know we probably all knew anyway that if we read a lot of negative things, with no positive “interruptions” we will start to feel negative. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out when it is put in front of you in black and white…but I guess in practise it is a little harder to perceive. I doubt that back in 2012 when this experiment occurred, anyone who was affected thought: “hmmm, there is a lot of negativity on here today, let’s go for a walk/ meet with friends…or otherwise re-balance my emotions.” Obviously as it is subconscious, we just end up being dragged down too.
And this I suppose links to people too… their moods or negativity rubbing off on us. (Though I would not be a supporter of ditching people because they are in a bad mood, or hanging out with someone less frequently because they’re always “on a downer”. You should probably be questioning why they’re sad, rather than thinking “Sod it, can’t be bothered with them”… unless of course you aren’t really a friend to them at all…
Anyway, that isn’t really the point of this blog. My point really came to me as I was driving home from work last week. I was tootling down the road, past the newsagents etc, and noticed outside the shops were the newsstands with boldly printed headlines, meant to draw us in to the shop to buy the paper. And then it struck me… I’d been idly reading them on my entire trip home…I must pass about four (if not more) and they were all horrible, depressing, shocking headlines. The last one took the biscuit for me, standing just round the corner from my house. “Drowned baby: Couple in Court” I literally opened my mouth and said: “Jesus…”
Now, I appreciate that papers are trying to sell. And I also appreciate that we as the public have a right to know what is going on in the community. But I am driving home from a long day at work (full of the usual highs and lows of a 9-5) ,ready to enjoy my evening, but before I have even reached my house, Ii am bombarded by all the deepest, most grotesque sides of human nature, being brazenly displayed on the roadside.
And I then realised… these headlines change a few times a week. It is not even as if this is a one off piece, amongst otherwise happy, positive news stories.
Now, whether or not we naturally have a morbid fascination for all things dark, gory and just downright obscene… I began to question how “ok” this is. For example, sex shops are hidden and made into a discreet parlour with all sorts of stigma and shame attached to them, despite them really only playing out fantasies/ fetishes, while we can have all sorts of real life depravity plastered all over the public roads. Double standards?
I could explore this for hours, but I just wanted to touch on a couple of things. I feel it is a shame that:
1. We aren’t interested in the “good news” stories that are undoubtedly out there- no one wants to read them. They are only really interested in all the dark, grisly things that happen just under our noses… This “morbid fascination” we enjoy.
2. We are being influenced by all this negativity, mainly without even realising it. I felt genuinely upset having read that last “drowned baby” article… and had to a) recognise the reason for feeling low, and b) drag myself out of it.
Considering I had been reading these articles without even being very aware of it, and had done this for the past 3 years or so (on different routes, to different locations) I began to question how often my mood (if not my actions as a result of my mood) have been affected my things I have read without even realising…
Scary stuff. And I guess actually I owe Facebook a thank you, for bringing it all to my attention!
Looking forward to some debate on this one folks, if it grabs you x