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December 18, 2012

Media Induced PTSD

The mother of all First World problems:

Can consuming too much social media and news coverage during upsetting events like the Newtown school shooting cause post-traumatic stress disorder? The journalism blog Muck Rack asked that question on Monday, writing, “Is it possible to consume too much news and media, and be adversely effected [sic] by it?”

NPR’s Andy Carvin threw his weight behind the potential trauma of overdosing on news. So did David Clinch of the social media news tool Storyful: “We provide professional PTSD advice for all @Storyful staff who routinely watch/verify video from war zones,” he tweeted.

Some journalists, however, found the notion … a bit “ridiculous.” Just “log out,” they wrote on Twitter a bit flippantly. “ 'War veterans aren't the only ones suffering,' says group with absolutely no concept of perspective,” wrote Sara Morrison, an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review.*

But as ridiculous as it may sound at first glance, Todd Essig, a clinical psychologist who blogs about mental health and technology for Forbes, believes PTSD from social media is a genuine possibility. He pointed me to studies showing media-induced PTSD following Sept. 11, and he mentioned that some children who kept re-watching footage of the World Trade Center towers collapsing developed PTSD.

Clearly, more regulation is needed. We must do "something". Possibly related (and trauma-inducing!):

We May Never Know What Was on Adam Lanza's Hard Drive

Somehow I suspect my heart will go on.

Posted by Cassandra at December 18, 2012 08:13 AM

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Of COURSE! Why didn't I think of it! All that data smog from conservatives has GOT to go.

There. Fixed it for ya.

Posted by: Cricket at December 18, 2012 01:48 PM

You'd have to live a pretty cocooned life not to be exposed to trauma even at second-hand via the news, happening to total strangers. If that's enough to disorder you, something's very wrong, and it's not with the news coverage.

Posted by: Texan99 at December 19, 2012 08:44 AM

I suspect most people would be happier if they ignored the news; I know I would. On the other hand, I don't think the purpose of my life is necessarily to be happy.

Posted by: Sig at December 20, 2012 12:39 AM

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