“They seem to have a new ability to slip away from their real-life concerns. They remake themselves in their own minds according to a more fictional story. They borrow characters from TV dramas. They allow themselves degrees of freedom in terms of being less honest.”
I find this most surprising. Quite ordinary people have been doing just that since around 1927 and they certainly all weren’t insane. I suppose fewer people read The Day of the Locust or whathaveyou anymore, not even educated psychiatrists. Anyone who has seen any number of movies about movies & show biz, from Cinema Paradiso to All About Eve to The Spirit of the Beehive, recognizes that this is not a 21st century phenomenon but an early 20th century one. Especially as family relationships become more and more “hands off” and people were capable of moving away in order to reinvent themselves, they have taken their cues from the movies, and depending upon the movies, this is not necessarily a bad thing:
PLUS: Kitty Genovese — the Global Warming of Crime…
This article [in the Journal of the American Psychological Association, 2007] argues that an iconic event in the history of helping research — the story of the 38 witnesses who remained inactive during the murder of Kitty Genovese — is not supported by the available evidence.
Using archive material, the authors show that there is no evidence for the presence of 38 witnesses, or that witnesses observed the murder, or that witnesses remained inactive.
Drawing a distinction between the robust bystander research tradition and the story of the 38 witnesses, the authors explore the consequences of the story for the discipline of psychology. They argue that the story itself plays a key role in psychology textbooks. They also suggest that the story marks a new way of conceptualizing the dangers of immersion in social groups.
Finally, they suggest that the story itself has become a modern parable, the telling of which has served to limit the scope of inquiry into emergency helping.