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Vicariously Uplifted by TV’s Grubby Visuals

December 30th, 2004 Leave a comment Go to comments

Compassion fatigue, mass hysteria and all manner of psychological explanations are offered for aspects of our group behaviour towards crisis and disaster. Watching the news of the Tsunami and Earthquake unfold from the Indian Ocean this week and hearing the reflections of others there is a sense in which people are uplifted by the filmic nature of the scene.

Perhaps it is the case that watching such grand events on television we are taken on an emotional rollercoaster which leaves our brains soaked with endorphins. Hearing the cries of a woman whose boyfriend was swept from beside her on the beach. Watching the survival struggle of a grandmother and her one remaining grandchild then hearing that the other seven members of their family are known to be dead. Seeing mile after mile of wrecked coastline piled with bodies. One can not help but experience strong emotional feelings and reactions when confronted by these things.

Vicariously uplifted by TV’s grubby visuals people have been noticeably lacking the usual seasonal affects of depression. In their shock, horror, amazement and grief at what they see, the endorphins rolling around the nervous system are replacing the real highs of a life lived in person. At what point does watching the news switch from being a genuine interest in our world to living through the medium of other people’s lives.

This question, though highlighted by recent events and reactions, is a serious one for western societies. When people spend more time watching TV than talking with other real people they have truly given up genuine living and switched their allegiance to the world of second-hand highs. Most people in our society probably meet this criteria. TV is without doubt the modern opiate of the masses. Over the last week many people seem to have been mainlining pure heroin.

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