During World War II, people idolized FDR and his fireside chats with radio as a primary source of information. A few decades later, there was the first televised presidential debate between JFK and Richard Nixon.
In the past few years, social media has transformed the way government communicates with citizens and how we interpret political issues. Social media offers a more efficient way to receive information about events and important information however, with more sources of communication, the more polarizing this country has become. News organizations feel the pressure to appeal to their audience while negative news coverage captures people’s attention more opposed to positive feed.
In my mind, this follows the same logic as why people are fascinated with murder documentaries and soap operas. Trauma and life retching events grabs people’s attention because we put more weight on the negative aspects of life than the positive.
The article linked its argument to a study done by researchers at UCLA Irvine after the Boston Marathon bombings. The study surveyed a national sample of over 4,000 adults to give their initial stress response, their degree of exposure to the bombing, their level of exposure through media, and any previous exposure to traumatic events.
The surprise in this research is that the people who witnessed the bombings or had a connection with someone who suffered from the bombings weren’t as likely to report high levels of stress. The study results show that people who were exposed to six or more hours per day of bombing-related media coverage were nine times more likely to report high levels of post-traumatic stress.
This information shows how much power the media controls over our emotions and actions. The negativity bias is pushing conservatives further to the right and liberals to the left with fewer individuals in the middle finding common ground.