Social media a major factor in anxiety over terror

Israeli study notes technological advancements makes everyone a potential journalist - further fueling the terror war.

Tova Dvorin ,

Facebook (illustration)
Facebook (illustration)

A team of Israeli researchers have quantified the full effect of the terror war on Israeli citizens Monday, concluding that anxiety among the Israeli public has more than doubled over the past six weeks. 

Professors Moli Yahad, Shaul Kimchi, and Yochanan Eshel from Tel Hai Academic College's Psychology department conducted the study, which included 740 participants from all sectors of Israeli society - 42% of which were secular Israelis, 31% traditional, 18% national-religious, and 9% haredi. 51% were men and 49% were women. 

25.6% of participants reported high levels of anxiety this week, compared to just 10.2% in August. 

The professors then took the data and extrapolated the percentages to apply to Israeli society at large - estimating that 504,693 people are currently suffering from high stress. 

Despite this, just 1.8% of participants said they had been exposed to terror - a slight difference from 1.4% in August. 

Researchers attribute part of the disproportionality between fear and exposure to the ubiquity of the media. 

"Unlike the past, today everyone is a potential journalist, as soon as he picks up his cell phone and documents the scene of the attack," Kimchi noted to Walla! News. "It affects both the response of the injured party and the motivation of the terrorist cause."

"The big winner of this phenomenon is the terrorist himself," he added. Social media, he said, is making recruiting 'lone wolf' attackers easier than in the past, while simultaneously permeating the public consciousness with the full scope of the terror war. 

"Terrorism is not meant to defeat an army or conquer a country," he reflected. "The goal is to to intimidate the civilian population. Therefore, terrorism wins twice." 

The study confirms previous research showing a sharp rise in post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and anxiety in general since terror rose in September, with another study proving Friday that Israeli children exposed to terror clips have been traumatized by the videos. Last month, PTSD experts also noted that psychological help hotlines have become overwhelmed and understaffed due to terror wave.