If you are highly sensitive, you are keenly--and genetically--tuned to positive and negative emotion to a greater degree than the other 80% of the population. How do you stay on an even keel?
On Tuesday this week my research told me that…
Eliminating all violence from the media is not in keeping with the reality of the human condition. Violence has always been with us and probably always will be. But the 32,000 murders and 40,000 attempted murders witnessed by normal TV viewers over 18 years is clearly unrealistic and exploitative.
On Wednesday this week a gunman shot three people during a live TV interview.
Both the reporter and camera operator died; the woman being interviewed survived. The footage showing the reporter being shot has been looped by news sources and shown over and over again. If you are high in sensory-processing sensitivity, how do you retain a positive worldview in the face of all this?
Check your total media intake
People who watch a lot of TV over-estimate the amount of actual violence in their community or country. That's according to Purdue University researchby Glenn Sparks and Susan Sarapin:
…heavy TV-crime viewers estimated two and a half times more real-world deaths due to murder than non-viewers,” Sarapin says. “People’s perceptions also were distorted in regard to a number of other serious crimes. Heavy TV-crime viewers consistently overestimated the frequency of crime in the real world…
This kind of television viewing can lead to a ‘mean world syndrome’ where people start to think about the world as a scary place.
Choose your news wisely
Research by former CBS News journalist Michelle Gielan in conjunction with the Huffington Post found the news you consume affects your entire day:
…watching just three minutes of negative news in the morning makes viewers 27% more likely to report having a bad day six to eight hours later. Those who watched transformative stories on the other hand, reported having a good day 88% of the time.
In this study readers were more likely to read and share positive content. They are also 24% more likely to purchase a product seen alongside a positive news story. This has implications for those advertisers who want readers and viewers to have a positive impression of their product.
Gielan suggests even sad stories can be told without implying “that the world is broken and you can’t do anything about it.”
Be aware of positive progress
Contrary to our perceptions, conditions have vastly improved across the globe in a variety of significant ways, including these:
Fewer people are living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day). The percentage, between 1981 and 2011, fell from 53% to 17%.
Global hunger has consistently decreased from 1990 to 2014.
Child labor dropped by one-third between 2000 and 2012.
Both rich and poor countries continue to see an increase in life expectancy.
The global under-five mortality rate has fallen by almost half since 1990.
Death from war and political violence is only a tiny fraction of the rate in the past.
And, still another perspective on positive progress
Positive Psychology News reports that:
Life has been getting better, not worse, for nearly everyone.
According to scholars like Steven Pinker at Harvard and Max Roser at Oxford, we live in the best time in history. Just as crime has fallen, so too have rates of HIV infection, homelessness, extreme poverty, war, murder, youth drug use, underage drinking, smoking, air pollution, and hunger.
At the same time, many of the good things in life have been on the rise, including longevity, high school graduation rates, educational attainment, vaccination rates, access to mobile phones, democracy, transportation, and human rights.
You need to be informed, and to be familiar with the culture in which you live and that you share with neighbors and friends. You also need to know your saturation point and when to stop your ingestion of violence and bad news. You needn’t live in a virtual coliseum. Once you have good information, you can decide, day by day, the best use of your time, trust and attention.