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That was probably a terrible title, but I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe this concept.

We all probably have a relative like this, they feel that the world is "going to hell" around them - except that isn't true, we have 24x7 media and the internet, so the bad stuff that already exists is just much more visible and perceptible than it used to be.

In the early 90's it was "stranger danger" and daytime talk shows having moms scared out of their wits that there was a child molester hanging around every corner, just waiting to snatch their loved ones away. (Nevermind the fact that the numbers of these crimes have stayed roughly stable, trending down for a long time)

Today it's computer hackers and the NSA.

How do you describe a person who is over-aware of bad news and has lost perspective, or the mental state of being in this condition?

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How about ‘pessimistic, conspiracy-mongering, clueless nutter’? ;-) –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 '13 at 16:49
    
youtube.com/watch?v=r5V9HylVb5I –  terdon Aug 2 '13 at 16:55
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The closest I can find to what you're describing is "news-induced" or "media-induced" anxiety. A quick search does not indicate widespread adoption of this as a catchphrase, but it seems like a sensible fit.

"Stranger danger", as you cite, is something that arose out of a particular kind of bad news that was prevalent at the time. I am not aware of any similar catchphrases around computer hackers, spying, terrorism, etc.

In mental terms, someone excessively worried about such things might be "hypervigilant" or suffering from "anxiety disorder". Or just plain "paranoid".

There are some generic idioms about "jumping at every shadow" or thinking that "danger lurks around every corner", but I think those are probably too broad for what you're looking for.

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Hypervigilant seems to be a good descriptor for someone who has a bad case of news-induced anxiety. That's exactly what I was looking for in both cases, thanks! –  Mikey T.K. Aug 2 '13 at 19:19
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A person who is over-aware of bad news might be a worrywart, “A person who worries excessively, especially about unimportant matters”. The term hypochondriac (meaning someone who is excessively preoccupied or worried about illness) isn't precisely applicable to worrying about non-medical matters, but sometimes is so used anyway.

Regarding loss of perspective, a relevant sense of Chicken Little is “one who panics at the slightest provocation”. Another sense is someone “running around claiming the sky is about to fall”.

Also consider naysayer (“One who consistently denies, criticizes, or doubts; a detractor”).

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I would suggest fear driven (with or without a hyphen).

While the online dictionaries do not provide a specific definition, this site offers some examples of use

“As is the case with all fear-driven positions, some actually believe the falsehoods; others have manipulative objectives, such as maintaining their vested interest in the oil industry's money, or solidifying their credentials with their voting constituency.” The Huffington Post: Douglas LaBier: The Psychology Behind the Right's Fear of the Future

“The ones they never got a chance to use during the Y2K scare or the pandemic flu scare or any of those other fear-driven scares that this psychoneurotic mob routinely promotes.” Mike Papantonio: Immigration Control Starts with Drug Control

Or did they, as Stewart said, "purposefully cover it up because it didn't help their fear-driven narrative?” The Huffington Post: News Corp. Executives Actually Recently Met With Saudi Billionaire In Mosque Controversy

Most of these relate to political issues, and the term does not exclude views that are justifiably afraid (based on fears that are reasonably weighed), but it suggests that the fear is overblown.

If you are open to neologistic phrases, you might consider

  • threat shock
  • danger shock
  • peril driven
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Hi think you may be looking for "excitable", meaning the response, when compared with the average, is comparatively large or severe.

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