CRISCIONE: General nastiness on television, other media forms perpetuate negativity

Column: The Digital Downfall

The picture is very clear that media and social media impact mental health, but is it all that it seems to be? We see every day the negative impact that social media has on teenagers and young adults, but what about actual media?

After watching the film “Joker,” it came to my attention the deeper issues in society as a whole, which was expected. So, following me watching the film, I noticed Jimmy Kimmel interviewing Joaquin Phoenix. 

It was possibly one of the most uncomfortable interviews I have ever seen, and Kimmel used a lot of things to ridicule and embarrass Phoenix.

Up until now, I did not realize, we as a society usually laugh and make fun of people for their mistakes or what they do since it is not us. The projection of this in media does not only impact our mental health in the ways we think, but also in the health of the people who are being shown this projection. 

From a young age, we are shown that someone else's faults can become comedy. This is perfectly fine if the person is doing it for comedy's sake, but a lot of the times people do not want to be exposed in such a way.

Of course, “roasting” is more so a voluntary thing. There is a line between being funny and being hurtful that is becoming blurred as media advances. Take, for instance, the early 2000s and the media then. It was a common thing to make fun of someone mentally or based on who they were. 

“American Idol” back then held nothing back to many people, and in a moment it was all good fun, but looking back on it, many things they would say were just beyond rude.

With every few years, we have become more and more numb to these issues, but censorship rises and now many of the things said and done on '00s television cannot be done today.

If we look deeper into this issue, it will always go back to media and social media. These are almost always the extreme conditions, though.

This is something that we as a society do not see since it is a part of our lives. Making jokes and such is all in good fun, but there does come a point where one might be joking and it leads to something much worse down the road. Many mental health issues can linger and follow people for quite some time. 

Oftentimes, this is not something that many people speak about since it is classified as a joke. We could look into pranks as well and how they can destroy a society as a whole. Since a majority of pranks tend to be fake from television or YouTube. The problem is when people try to do these things themselves and are completely unaware of what could occur.

Every bit of media that we are exposed to impacts us one way or another. Social media itself has not destroyed this generation as many people think, but it has been shaped in a negative light. With many studies being done about the impact of social media on mental health, it can get a bit overwhelming. 

I think the issue lies in how the older generations view it, and the way we use it.

So what does this mean for mental health, and why does it matter? Well, as a society we are suffering. With not being able to identify the very problem that we created, and also not understanding the issue to fix many of these issues. The problem is that people want to see others ridiculed and made fun of as entertainment while not wishing it upon themselves. 

It is much easier to laugh at someone's mistakes on screen than realize the mistakes we made. Mental health has only recently been brought to light in the media, because of how popular “Dr. Phil” has become. 

Even with that, the people who go on the show will get ridiculed for something by someone. This in itself creates a domino effect of negativity that will branch off outside of the digital realm. 

Society has become emotionally numb in a sense. It is great that the media is covering more about mental health issues, but at the same time, there will always be networks and people looking to exploit one's faults for the betterment of themselves. 

If we are looking for the guilty, we need to only look in the mirror.

Alexander Criscione is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies. His column, “The Digital Downfall,” runs on alternate Thursdays.


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