What are ‘moral panics’?
A ‘moral panic’ is a name for something society thinks is different from the norm or deviant in nature. It can have characteristics about it that cause concern for the general public, that possibly causes hostility to the people, group of people or organisations involved or focused on, there then can become a kind of consensus either by the public or the media that this issue is ‘an issue’ which can lead to hostility and so forth. In a ‘moral panic’ the panic and the issue are usually disproportionate to the real issue at hand.
What does the media have to do with them, if anything?
The media business focus:
The media is quite often central to this because it is media that writes the news we read most of the time. These newspapers and media outlets are mostly businesses of profit that have an agenda, at the very least, to sell newspapers and get more readers to make more profit. They do this through sensationalising bad or negative news that they think will sell papers. Media outlets are usually owned by businesses with other interests and therefore the news they print and the angle from which they print it can be biased towards their business economic interests or political interests.
The media’s involvement in ‘moral panics’:
Unfortunately bad news or negative news sells more newspapers or gets more people watching than that of good news and therefore perpetuates the negativity into a ‘moral panic’. On top of this as the definition of a ‘moral panic’ is something society thinks is deviant or different from the norm then it is something that is newsworthy and will attract public attention so that they can sell more papers. Most newspapers and media outlets are businesses with economic focus and political bias, even though they would rarely openly admit this. Because of this it has be conjectured that they be the cause of or part of the cause of forced or created or manipulated moral panics for political or economic gains.
In today’s modern society, with the onset of social media this negative news from media outlets can spread fast and cause a very real kind of ‘moral panic’. Quite often the ‘moral panic’ can go viral and even if it is not started by the news outlets the very fact that it goes viral can give these outlets something additional to write about which again perpetuates the ‘moral panic’.
So to the answer the question does the media have anything to do with ‘moral panics’ and if so what? The answer is yes and it plays a central role in creating and stoking up ‘moral panic’ but at the same time more reasonable less biased media outlets could and can do a lot to calm a wave of moral panic before it become more of an issue.
So what does this mean for you and me?
Well understanding this means that we can me armed against it. It means we can question why and how the news we hear and see has come about. We can question the sources behind it and what their agenda may be and we can fight it if need be.
Being the 100th monkey is all about sharing a message. Posting it on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social media outlet you may choose to use give you a power of being a voice of reason.
When you see or hear a moral panic arising you can take action against it and you can help turn a moral panic into what it usually turns out to be…. Just media hype.