Pacer Notes: We all just need a little comic relief
A CNN study of more than 2,000 participants shows that almost 90 percent of regular newspaper readers also read the comics section. In a world with so many acts of hatred, so many controversial views and an overwhelming number of new ideas being brought to life, why do illustrations and scribbled characters remain so popular?
It is simple: Comic relief is keeping people sane.
Without some way to laugh in a short burst of absent-minded bliss, readers might otherwise find newspapers to be overwhelmingly depressing. News does a great job of informing the public of current events, but most bold titles relate to stories of shootings, accidents, war and controversy. As compensation for all of that sadness in the news, comics provide an outlet for laughter and a chance to remember that not all is gruesome in the world.
The issue often lies with our choice of media. The Lake Oswego Review doesn't have comics for readers to merrily digest, yet this paper does a wholesome job of including upbeat feature stories, including education updates, family news and celebrations of local history. This paper offers many outlets for readers to smile.
But more and more people are watching news on television and lose access to comics, feature stories and other lighthearted fare found in newspapers. TV news also amplifies feelings of distress, as videos and photos of disasters deepen the reality of horrible situations.
Having access to reality, no matter how harsh it can be, is positive in creating a knowledgeable society. But it is simultaneously depressing, which is troubling in a time when depression is running rampant.
In 2016, TIME published a study revealing that the number of Americans affected by depression had risen 37 percent from 2005 to 2014. Depression is an accumulation of many unfortunate events in an individual's life, combined with off-putting chemicals in the brain, but I bet that the constant reminder of the horrible acts occurring in the world isn't helping to cure anyone of their sorrows.
Could things like comics really relieve some of the stress and depression in our generation? Is there a relationship between reminders of terrorism and drunk-driving incidents and the millions of Americans who have lost themselves in unforgiving depression?
There isn't evidence to prove a relationship between heartbreaking headlines and depression, but the importance of laughter certainly is supported by the fact that nine out of 10 people who pick up a newspaper take time to read the comics.
Laughter heals, and that is why comics and heartwarming stories are still prevalent — and so important — in papers today.