Can your TV habits attract violence?

I came across this blog post from Psychology Today, which talks about how mass murders are on the rise.  We were all horrified to hear about the Aurora theater massacre  and lately I’ve been taking note of all of the violence going on in Chicago, as well as other places across the country.

It made me wonder: Does the law of attraction play a role in this? Turn on the TV and there are several popular shows that deal with serial killers, mass murderers and criminals on a daily basis. One of my favorite shows is Criminal Minds, and you’ll regularly find me happily watching re-runs of Law and Order: SVU.  But we don’t have to look to Hollywood to get a glimpse inside the warped mind of violent criminals; we can simply turn on CNN and we’ll likely be horrified.

So does our fascination with criminals draw them to us? If I like reading suspense novels about serial killers (and I do; I’m sure you see a pattern in my entertainment choices here), does that make me more likely to be the victim of a serial killer since I’m focusing my thoughts on such horrible crimes?

Going by what I’ve read about the law of attraction, I’m inclined to believe I’m not drawing these events to me because I think of shows like Criminal Minds as entertainment. When I watch them, I don’t feel like my life is in danger. I don’t feel like that can or will happen to me.  That’s not to say that someone else who is watching Criminal Minds isn’t feeling fear or feeling a connection to the serial killers. In that case, I think it’s entirely possible for such shows to influence the collective psyche and experiences of the people who watch them.

I think the news, however, has a bigger impact on what happens in society. When I watch the news and there’s talk about a serial killer or a mass murder, I do find myself contemplating whether I will find myself in a certain situation. While I’ve never been nervous in a movie theater, I caught myself last week visualizing what I would do had I been accosted in a theater by a gunman. (I quickly shifted to a different thought.) Whenever there is a plane crash, I feel a little anxious about flying. And if I hear about some type of health scare, I’m making an appointment with my primary care physician.

So what should we do if we feel ourselves feeling emotionally impacted by terrible events we see through mass media? After all, we attract what we are emotionally attached to. How do we stop ourselves from attracting such events into our lives?

–Keep it in perspective.  The news media is in the business of scoring high ratings and selling newspapers and magazines. They know that fear keeps people tuned in. Focus on the reality of the situation. For example, that 8 percent unemployment rate they keep crying about? How about focusing on the fact that 92 percent of Americans are working.

—Watch media consciously.  Pay attention to your feelings when you’re watching movies, television or the news. If you’re feeling bad when watching something, consider taking a break. If you’ve ever taken part in a news fast — deliberately avoiding news broadcasts for a period of time — you likely noticed a decrease in worries about the economy, security, your health and all of the other topics journalists love to bring bad news about.

—Don’t be afraid to turn it off. I used to watch Lifetime movies all day until I realized one day that the constant stories about scorned women left me feeling cynical and depressed.  When the channel changed, so did my mood.



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