Due to many recent and tragic events, social media has had many violent photos and videos posted of various acts of crime. Incidences France, Turkey and the US (Orlando and Minnesota) have become the top news stories on Twitter and Facebook which is starting to have a more direct effect on the users of social media.
A study in 2012 was conducted by the University of Bradford in England that revealed how violent content on social media was causing its users to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was carried out by Dr Pam Ramsden who had surveyed 189 people who were asked to describe their reaction on certain events which include the attacks of 9/11, suicide bombings and school shootings.
From viewing pictures on social media, more than a fifth of the respondents scored on clinical measures of PTSD even though none of the people had actually experienced the traumatic events in person. The study also revealed that the people who viewed the violent events more often were likely to be affected on a larger scale than compared to those who didn’t view them as much and that extroverts seemed to be more susceptible to being affected by disturbing graphic images.
Viewing violent videos and images can cause some people to become desensitised to such things, however, according to Mary John, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist, the opposite effect can happen as people end up showing symptoms of PTSD, usually those prone to fear.
Many women needed counseling due to the princess Diana’s death as how she died became an overwhelmingly traumatic event for them. This was due to the way everyone was able to identify with the princess’s problems.
Anyone who can relate to certain events can end up being affected by it, so when a violent incident takes place, people react a certain way depending on their susceptibility, usually those who are sympathetic.
In order to cope with situations, everyone has their own way of dealing with stress. Many seek solace with God, while others fall into a depression. However, people need to keep in mind that events like these are bound to happen and that they need to be able to face them with restraint and conviction. People should not turn a blind eye on situations, they must instead be able to be strong and have faith in humanity.
How to limit bad news
- In order to avoid over exposure to social media, people must allocate the right amount of time for themselves when accessing these platforms.
- If one feels the news is going to have an effect on them, then only reading the headline is a good way of avoiding adverse effects.
- Focusing on good news and not just the bad is a good way of balancing the scales. There are many websites that publish good news.
- Many social media platforms (such as Twitter and Tweetdeck) now days give users the option to mute the conversation and other specific keywords so that certain types of news stories don’t pop up on feeds. (This is a temporary option and can be unblocked as any time)
- It is important to be aware of the type of news and stories that a person can handle. Not every link requires the user to click on it so make sure that emotional triggers are in check and no news is likely to have a negative effect.