Reality Checks Are Good Things

I am a sucker for a good mystery series. I like the intrigue and figuring out the puzzles, unraveling the knots to find the answers. The thing is, most mysteries these days are of the murder variety. That means I end up watching a lot of violence along the way. And that bugs me.

It used to be that sleuths tracked down more thieves than murderers. Sherlock Holmes only encountered 3 murders in his first 12 adventures. Where have all the other stories gone?

I don’t have an answer.

I do know that watching all that violence takes a toll on my psyche. I get jumpy. I worry about whether we locked the doors before going to bed. I walk down dark streets with a tighter grip on my keys.

The thing is, I live in Emporia, Kansas. We have a below average crime rate. We went 3 years without a single murder, from 2010-2012. Most murders here are like most murders elsewhere–personal. Random violent crime is really rare here and across the nation.

The only news article I could find regarding this trend of exaggerating the crime rate and the incidence of violent crime is from the BBC, How Realistic Is Murder on Television? It gives the actual murder rates for some television series, comparing those to real life locations. They give the statistics in murder rates per million. The highest average total violent crimes per million in the past 10 years in the U.S. is 27. The violent crime rate per million in the same year in Emporia was 21. In the popular television show Murder She Wrote the murder rate alone is 1,290 per million. I sense a little overkill.

AnvilI needed that reality check. Not only are crime rates exaggerated in television series, but violent crime is emphasized on news broadcasts and talked to death in the blogosphere. If we are not careful, it is easy to believe that we are in constant danger. We begin to think that the whole world is a terrible place where things are getting worse every day.

It is not that bad things do not happen, or that injustice is not a problem. There is war. People are killed. Children are kidnapped. Just not as often as we fear.

I am not particularly a big fan of statistics, but they saved my sanity when I realized that my perception is skewed by media input.

Reality checks that bring us peace are so refreshing!

This TED Talk sheds more light on decoding the facts about the global situation.


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