Two things dominate the media, sex and violence. Let's focus on violence for the time being. Here's a look at then and now....
|Television then||Television now|
|Leave it to Beaver||Buffy the Vampire Slayer|
|Phil Donahue||Jerry Springer|
|Candid Camera||World's Scariest Police Videos|
|Video Games then||Video Games now|
|Ping Pong||Mortal Combat|
|Pac Man||Resident Evil|
|Frogger||Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles|
|Movies then||Movies now|
|Gone with the Wind||Twister|
|Singing in the Rain||The Perfect Storm|
|Marry Poppins||So I Married an Axe Murderer|
Why is our society drawn to violence? It's really quite simple. We are stressed out. We take orders all day long, whether it's from a teacher, a hall monitor, bullies, a boss, an ego-tripping coworker, or one of the billions of signs decorating our world. Every time we take an order from someone, we feel that our freedom has been threatened. Teens in the US read about freedom in history class, but they rarely feel free. Our freedom feels threatened from all sides every single day by those who have more power. This just scratches the surface in terms of what teens deal with around the world. There's also peer pressure, trouble with school work, popularity issues, abuse, poverty, sickness, loss. Some kids live in dangerous environments and must fear for their safety every day. Other kids simply fear failure. Everyone deals with some sort of threat or stress.
Now, when we feel stressed or threatened, our bodies switch into a different state. This is called the fight or flight response. Hormones are released. Stored energy is released. Our heart beats faster. We breathe faster. Our hair stands on end. And our eyes widen. Our senses become more sharp. Blood is diverted to our muscles. Our body prepares us to fight or to run. Are we allowed to fight or run? NO! At least not for the 8 hours we are stuck in class or our job. We all are forced to suppress our natural response to stress. Our body has released chemicals, and we have provided no way for those chemicals to be used up, so they just float around in our blood making us antsy and irritable, ready to explode! This is actually damaging to our bodies. If you never use that pent up energy, your body must absorb the excess chemicals it has released. Over time these chemicals can make you more prone to high blood pressure and heart attack.
That's why regular exercise is so important for us. It's much better to release those chemicals at a time when you can run, jump, kick and compete. This way the chemicals are used up. Damage to your health is prevented. You become more relaxed and less stressed during the day. You become less irritable. As a result you don't feel threatened as often. Problem solved.
Still we continue to crave violence. When we watch violence in the media we imagine that we are the character on the screen. We imagine that we are fighting or running. This makes us feel good, because we finally feel like we are no longer suppressing our fight or flight response. It feels good to see a character you hate get punished. That character could remind you of someone who threatened you that day. You can then imagine you're the hero kicking his sorry butt.
The more violence we see, the more we get used to it. It's very similar to the way we develop a tolerance to drugs. The more we get used to it, the more we need in order to feel that original satisfaction. This is why the media has grown more violent over the years. Because the viewers have grown a tolerance to violence.
We certainly do not want to be one more entity telling you what to do. But we do have a recommendations if you are interested.
We recommend always differentiating between the media and reality. Most of what you see in the media is fantasy. Characters get away with a heck of a lot more in the media than they would in real life. The reality shows are also not representative of real life. Olympic medalists do not make up the majority of athletes, yet they are the focus of Olympic broadcasts. A death defying stunt you see on television was probably preceded by many painful failed attempts. When crimes are caught on tape they don't bother to video tape the offender during his years in prison. What's possible in the media, is never possible in real life without serious consequences.
We recommend exercise. It keeps you healthy, reduces your stress and allows your body to fight or flight. You can still take in an action flick when you feel like it. You just won't thirst for revenge as much as you would if you were not exercising.
Boys Town National Hotline
Crisis counseling for girls and boys and referral to local help
The National "YOUTH" Crisis Help line