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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Too much true crime

Photo credit: Helen Suh
Photo credit: Helen Suh

Finally comfortable, you close your eyes in your soft warm bed and begin to drift asleep. Then your eyes open. You remember you just finished watching “Dateline.”

Quickly arising, you check every window and door and close all the blinds. You would nail wood over every door but you don’t have wood or nails because you’re a broke college student.

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. For I too suffer from murder show-induced paranoia.

I believe true crime shows, shows documenting real murders, or even a simple episode of “Law and Order: SVU” make many people fearful and anxiety-prone.

When I was younger, I had a bedroom on the ground floor with a slider door to the backyard. We didn’t have time to put up curtains. That’s also when I first started watching true crime shows. The slider scared the shit out of me for some completely irrational reason. I think it was because someday I feared I would see someone outside, just like on TV. So I slept on the far side of the bed from the slider, which makes no logical sense. Luckily I eventually grew out of this phase and got curtains.

The reason I was watching true crime shows at a young age is because we are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them. “Cold Case Files,” “48 Hours,” “Dateline,” “Southern Fried Homicide,” “Forensic Files” and “Swamp Murders” are just a few. That doesn’t even include the ones about spousal murder: “Wicked Attraction,” “Deadly Affairs,” “Snapped,” “Wives with Knives,” “Behind Mansion Walls“and “Blood, Lies and Alibis.”

With so many heinous crimes featured on TV how are we supposed to avoid them? Our minds are being filled with gruesome details of head bashings and late night gunshots to the chest. These thoughts are finding their way into our subconscious and making us more paranoid of the people around us and creating anxiety.

These shows can even lead to feeling scared to be alone. “Dateline” has been using the promotional #DontWatchAlone for the past few years. It’s true, watching eerie crime shows alone in an empty house, especially at night, can be a truly terrifying experience.

Comedy Central’s hit TV show “South Park” has also taken note of the increase in true crime shows, specifically ones specializing in spousal murders. The show dubbed the subgenre as, “informative murder porn” because many of the shows sexualize spousal murder. Most of these shows highlight the common thread of almost all spousal murders: the indubitable affair. They capitalize on it by spinning the show as a lust-filled, revenge-driven murder that explodes in a passionate crime.

These shows are illustrating to us that some people are murdered by the one they trust the most. If they can’t even trust that person, how are we supposed to trust a passing stranger?

The answer to this conundrum is simple. Despite true crime shows depicting everyone as murderous, most homicides are committed by someone the victim knew.

The question remains, do true crime shows make us more paranoid because we feel more homicides are occurring? Or have there always been just as many but we weren’t exposed to them? According to ABC News, the murder rate in the U.S. is at its lowest since 1966 and has been dropping for eight consecutive years. Although there is more crime on TV, in real life there is actually less and less.

The truth is, even if you watch a lot of true crime shows or informative murder porn, your odds of being a victim are just as low as a person who didn’t watch. Murder show-induced paranoia is a completely self-controlled affliction that with proper knowledge can be treated.

Educate yourself before you watch, because these events don’t actually happen frequently. Knowing the facts will help alleviate your murder show-induced paranoia and anxiety, and open you up to a world where strangers are friendly and a late night breeze through an open window is welcome.

Alex Horne can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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    Anon // Mar 30, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    There is actually a name for this ans it is called, “Mean World Syndrome” where you watch and see so many bad things in TV shows that you believe that the entire world is that way, love the article!

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