Saturday, 14 November 2015
Mass Hysteria and Mass Media?
The recent outbreak of mass faintings at a Rippon school 'poppy-day' memorial day is only the latest example of apparent physical illness caused entirely by psychological means (http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2015/nov/12/the-ripon-ripple-of-anxiety-and-mass-hysteria). The hall where the ceremony was taking place was reported to be stuffy and initially caused a handful of pupils to faint, leading to a domino effect on others. It eventually resulted in around 40 causalties. Such mass events have apparently also been seen historically e.g. at 'witch trials' and in factories as rumours swept the local populations. The only aspect that is somewhat different, is the attempt to link the latest event to mass media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter- although actually these platforms are likely to be a bit 'old hat' for the young folk involved). The argument seems to be that rumours can spread even more efficiently via the medium, making it less easy to reassure people after establishing that there is no real threat (e.g. a poison gas or food poisoning). Yet something else we can blame on the www?
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