OPINION: Media contributes to culture of dread

Climate change, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, sex crimes, coronavirus, racist and discriminatory words bolded in black ink and plastered across pages or online. 

We are living in a time where  trials and tribulations continue to accelerate at a fearfully alarming rate, and the feeling of hopelessness on the individual level continues to rise during what seems to be an endless wave of tumultuous headlines. 

In a time where resources and technology are so advanced that the entire world is placed at our fingertips, every day the world has a new story to tell and more often than not, the stories carry tales of human suffering, from genocide, to disease, to poverty.

“There have been many headlines that have led me to feel a sense of hopelessness,” said DePaul junior Sugra Haq. “The most heartbreaking headline for me to read was an Al Jazeera article that covered the poverty in Yemen. It’s the world’s most severe [humanitarian] crisis and no one is batting an eye.” 

It becomes overwhelming and even scary when pictures of wailing mothers, violent riots and the innocent demanding justice play across television and computer screens worldwide like an endless film strip. Some then ask the simple question “is it really that hard to be kind?” Or, “whatever happened to talking things out?”  The questions vary, but the sentiment echoes across the world: when will it end? 

“By its choice of phrasing, a headline can influence your mindset as you read so that you later recall details that coincide with what you were expecting,” says Maria Konnikova, a writer for the New Yorker. There’s no denying that the headline is what sets the tone for an article, but provocative headlines have equal impact, if not more, on the person’s mindset from the beginning of the story until the end. 

Humans, because of our natural tendency toward negativity, also have a tendency to pay more attention to things that are threatening or dangerous, says Carolyn Gregoire, a writer for the Huffington Post. Although the headlines do not shy away from providing the gruesome details that reside in the truth of the story, it’s the same  headlines that ultimately serve as a call for action, for all of humanity. 

Dr. Zainab Baig, a medical expert in internal medicine mentioned that “due to the heightened stress of watching/reading anxiety-provoking headlines, it can further cause heightened responses to stress within our bodies leading to ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma and a variety of cardiovascular disorders.” 

While the headlines continue to become and more perilous as the world continues to erupt in discrimination and hatred, raising your voice becomes the pinnacle in installing global change. The key thing to alleviate your feeling of hopelessness is to talk about the headlines. Engage in discussions and allow a community of people to share their concern and their fears over what’s happening in the world.

“I feel that assumptions are made often of minorities within the DePaul community. My hope is that we’d ask more questions and really find out more and educate ourselves about things that are new to us,” said DePaul junior Angelica Bidwill. 

Today’s journalists perform important duties of showcasing stories of the untold to the world from different provinces and backgrounds. We can take that feeling of hopelessness and we can use it to make  our efforts and our voice resonate throughout the globe. 

You don’t have to be a hard news reporter that uncovers major events as they unfold; or a person trained for combat to fight for freedom, liberty and justice, because empowerment stems from you and your voice. With hard work, a sense for what is right and what is wrong, we can ultimately become that change we wish to see in the world.