University of Texas-San Antonio Professor Says Americans Are ‘Fatigued’ by Negative News

A cleaner walks past TV sets showing Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual live call-in show in a shop in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 15, 2017. Putin had his annual live call-in show, a TV marathon lasting for hours in which he is widely expected to declare his intention …
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.

A professor of psychology at the University of Texas, San Antonio, argues that Americans are emotionally “fatigued” due to the prevalence of negative news in the media.

In a conversation with the College Fix, University of Texas, San Antonio professor Mary McNaughton-Cassill argued that Americans are experiencing “compassion fatigue” over the amount of negative news in the media.

But what is “compassion fatigue?” According to McNaughton-Cassill, “compassion fatigue” refers to the notion that the emotional response from exposure to others experiencing trauma. McNaughton-Cassill contends that Americans, primarily young Americans, are increasingly exposed to trauma through news updates on social media. She specifically cited increased exposure to tragic events like school shootings and natural disasters as the cause of “compassion fatigue.”

“You can use ‘compassion fatigue’ a couple ways,” McNaughton-Cassill said in the interview. “You can say people are just tired of hearing bad news about anything and they are selfish and entitled and they are tuning out. Or you can say that there is so much negative information and so much conflicting information that a lot of people are narrowing down and saying ‘I just can’t manage this so I’m going to look at the stuff I know about.’”

McNaughton-Cassill argues that “compassion fatigue” is at its peak in the 21st century because most consumers of tragic news are not in a position to help those that are suffering.

“The other part of the modern news media is that we get so much information from places that are really far away so there’s no sense that you can personally fix the kids who are hurt in Syria,” she added. “That’s not normal for human experience. Because up until the last century, the things you saw that were bad, you were there in person and so you couldn’t necessarily fix it but you had a role to play.”


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