One of the factors contributing to the intense nature of twenty-first-century stress is our continual exposure to media – particularly to an overabundance of news. If you feel stressed out by the news, you are far from alone. Yet somehow many of us seem unable to prevent ourselves from tuning in to an extreme degree.
The further back we go in human history, the longer news took to travel from place to place, and the less news we had of distant people and lands altogether. The printing press obviously changed all that, as did every subsequent development in transportation and telecommunication.
When television came along, it proliferated like a poplulation of rabbits. In 1950, there were 100,000 television sets in North American homes; one year later there were more then a million. Today, it’s not unusual for a home to have three or more television sets, each with cable access to perhaps over a hundred channels. News is the subject of many of those channels, and on several of them it runs 24 hours a day.
What’s more, after the traumatic events of Sptember 11, 2001, live newcasts were paired with perennial text crawls across the bottom of the screen – so that viewers could stay abreast of every story all the time.
Needless to say, the news that is reported to us is not good news, but rather disturbing images and sound bytes alluding to diasater (natural and man-made), upheaval, crime, scandal, war, and the like. Compounding the proplem is that when actual breaking news is scarce, most broadcasts fill in with waistline, hairline, or very existence in the future. This variety of story tends to treat with equal alarm a potentially lethal flu outbreak and the bogus claims of a wrinkle cream that overpromises smooth skin.
Are humans meant to be able to process so much trauma – not to mention so much overblown anticipation of potetial trauma – at once? The human brain, remember, is programmed to slip into alarm mode when danger looms. Danger looms for someone, somewhere at every moment. Exposing ourslves to such input without respite and without perspective cannot be anything other than a source of chronic stress.
Question 36. The word “slip” in paragraph 6 is closest in meaning to ______.