Tuesday, January 03, 2006


A new year, full of hope ... and anxiety.

During our trip to Seattle, anxiety was a common topic discussed.

Now back home I just read in the NY Times an obituary of Dr George Gerbner. From the article:

He founded the Cultural Indicators Research Project in 1968 to track changes in television content and how those changes affect viewers' perceptions of the world. Its database has information on more than 3,000 television programs and 35,000 characters.

Mr. Gerbner said people no longer learned their cultural identity from their family, schools, churches and communities but instead from "a handful of conglomerates who have something to sell."

He coined the phrase "mean world syndrome," a phenomenon in which people who watch large amounts of television are more likely to believe that the world is an unforgiving and frightening place.

"Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line postures," he testified before a Congressional subcommittee on communications in 1981. "They may accept and even welcome repression if it promises to relieve their insecurities. That is the deeper problem of violence-laden television."