Are Porn and Other Sensationalistic Media Distracting Our Society from Real Issues?? ABSOLUTELY – And, In the Meantime, They Take the Children Too!!

Posted on 1/24/2012 by with 1 comment

In humdrum lives, academics say an addiction to sensational or salacious news can be opiate of the masses

by: Sherine Conyers, Maroochy Journal From: Quest Newspapers January 24, 2012 12:00AM

LEWD APPEAL: Those with addictive behaviours could be getting a dopamine hit by looking at content that appeals to their senses. Source: Quest Newspapers

Sex, porn, violence, crime – now we have your attention, two Sunshine Coast academics may be able to explain why themes such as these attract so many readers.

Sociology lecturer Dr Phillip Ablett and lecturer in psychology, Dr Rachel Sharman, from the University of the Sunshine Coast say sensationalism can have a rewarding or addictive quality.

Dr Ablett says modern society is not much different to ancient Roman times when the powerful used bread and circuses to distract the masses.

He refers to a theory called “society and the spectacle” where the masses focus on sensation while neglecting issues of importance such as war and politics.

“What ‘society of the spectacle’ means is that in modern mass society, we tend to live fairly ordered and humdrum lives, controlled by consumerism and the desire for commodities and entertainments displayed by the commercial media,” Dr Ablett said.

“This leads to an impoverishment of our quality of life, a loss of critical thought and the degrading of real knowledge.”

But Dr Ablett said our desire to keep being stimulated by the spectacle is ever growing and the evolution of media to be “24/7″ online, on television, on radio and in print, had a sort of opiate affect.

“Entertainment is a good way of not having to deal with the responsibility of governing ourselves,” he said. It stopped us from looking at the root causes of problems and instead had us focus only on the extreme outcomes.

“It has to do with deeply embedded patriarchal assumptions in the organisation of society, issues about the normality of violence and about the way that power is distributed in society and the capacity of ordinary people to participate in effective decisions.

“We have a sense of alienation, of disempowerment, of cynicism towards political processes and having any real control over things like the economy, or even environmental crisis for that matter, so in the situation of powerlessness, I suppose an opiate is quite understandable,” he said.

So can people become addicted to sensation?

Dr Sharman said people who were predisposed to addictive behaviours could be drawn to news which gave them a buzz.

“We sometimes talk about what we call behavioural addictions.

“For some people if they get a high or a jolly or a joy or whatever from having looked at something salacious, for example, that can involve the neurochemical dopamine which is our reward chemical.

“Dopamine is involved in all chemical addictions.

” What you’re actually doing is you’re ramping up your dopamine.

“That will tell my brain to keep doing that again, keep approaching whatever that behaviour is that is giving that little lift,” she said.

Dr Sharman said people who were addicted to things like porn and disturbing sex acts would look for those images but they may also get the same hit from reading about them.

“Even without the physical imagery, certainly reading about it, the brain generates its own imagery.”

Dr Sharman said the more desensitised to images people became, the more shocking the images would need to be to get attention.

“It works exactly the same as addiction. One night I have one drink and get my dopamine up, if I keep doing that my tolerance will rise and I need two drinks and then another month I need three and so on,” she said.

“Once you’ve seen the photos of 10 dead people the eleventh isn’t as horrible and shocking as the first.”

But being desensitised can cause problems, Dr Sharman said.

“Some of the things that have alarmed a number of people in my profession is young women whose boyfriends are suggesting to them that they need them to perform increasingly perverted and kinky sex acts because these are the things seen on television and in magazines and what have you.

“These young men are being desensitised by seeing all of these images and watching women do weird things on television or magazines and expecting their girlfriends to comply and it’s not working.”

Dr Sharman said normalisation of extreme behaviours could lead to a reduction in the shame associated with it.

“If you have some sort of abnormal sexual behaviour and then society starts telling you that that’s OK you can see where that’s going to go.

“Obviously it’s going to lead to that person to have that abnormal fetish or sexual behaviour, liking towards violence and those sadistic behaviours.

“If you live in a community that finds that unacceptable and there is no imagery to support that, you will feel shame or isolated or different. Some people will seek treatment, others just go further and find nasty networks.

“But at the end of the day both of those options are better than society saying ‘that’s fine, go ahead and do it’.

“We want them to feel shame and to seek help for that. We don’t want people feeling that’s perfectly reasonable,” she said.

Read this story from the Maroochy Journal on questnews.com.au/sunshinecoast.

via In humdrum lives, academics say an addiction to sensational or salacious news can be opiate of the masses | News, events and sport for the Sunshine Coast | The Courier-Mail.

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