The eroding power of ‘hearing and sharing’

Attend a casual dinner party in this neck of the woods and notice which flavour of topic tends to dominate the event. A choice entrée appears to be crime, garnished with ineffectual policing.

Someone just has to say, “Do you know what happened three doors away from us the other night?” and personal antennae sprout up and wave around scooping up every morsel of information. Voracious appetites devour every last gruesome detail of the tragic incident. And there’s seldom a scarcity of side-dishes to add flavour to the main dish as more skirmishes or those from hearsay are added to the blend.


I have deep compassion for anyone who has suffered at the hands of criminals or lost loved ones through these violent acts, and I fully understand the importance of grieving, support from family and friends, and treating trauma. But what I don’t understand is the eager “hearing and sharing” of crime horrors when they are far removed from all the conversational participants. Is this a ripple reflection of the mainstream media’s tenacious grip on ‘bad news sells’?

Does this conversational phenomenon share elements with that of rubber-necking at the scene of a road accident or does it indicate the presence of an already heightened sense of anxiety which, like a sensitive nerve, will react to the slightest stimulation?

For many years I have declined to contribute to these conversations or do the chain letter thing in passing on bad news, not because I am being an ostrich with my head in the sand or attempting to sanitise reality, but because I cannot find one good reason to further publicise violence.

I am sure it’s safe to assume that ‘enough’ awareness of crime exists, which calls for certain preventative measures, but not a constant fear focus or mongering. The more horror stories one hears and absorbs, the more jittery one becomes. Anxiety can take on a life of its own and when stress reaches that level, all manner of otherwise normal bodily functions like digestion, the immune system, thinking and growth can be seriously compromised.

Cell biologist, Bruce Lipton Ph.D., in his book, The Biology of Belief, explains how “human blood vessel cells exhibit one microscopic anatomy for providing nutrition and a completely different microscopic anatomy for providing a protection response. What they can’t do is exhibit both configurations at the same time. … a sustained protection response inhibits the creation of life-sustaining energy. The longer you stay in protection, the more you consume your energy reserves, which in turn, compromises your growth. In fact, you can shut down growth processes so completely that it becomes a truism that you can be ‘scared to death’.”

And just as those microscopic anatomies cannot exhibit their configurations at the same time, nor can the opposite poles of love and fear or appreciation and anxiety co-exist. So which do you choose to nurture and promote?