The Arab Spring, NSA, Gun Control & Other Media Storms That Became The "New Normal"

Remember when everyone, president included, was absolutely freaking out about mass shootings... and then began to accept them as tragic inevitabilities? We'll call this the "Chicken Little" effect: a huge and life-changing event occurs, and the sky looks like it's falling. The media explodes with reports, and everyone freaks out. For a while.

Then the furor dies down. Because there's a bigger, newer story, and everyone's adapted to the normalcy of the old one — which no longer has the capability to shock. We've rounded up some the biggest "New Normal" stories of the last decade. Enjoy the trip down mediastorm lane.

The "New Normal" Effect

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Remember when everyone, president included, was absolutely freaking out about mass shootings... and then began to accept them as tragic inevitabilities? We'll call this the "Chicken Little" effect: a huge and life-changing event occurs, and the sky looks like it's falling. The media explodes with reports, and everyone freaks out. For a while.

Then the furor dies down. Because there's a bigger, newer story, and everyone's adapted to the normalcy of the old one — which no longer has the capability to shock. We've rounded up some the biggest "New Normal" stories of the last decade. Enjoy the trip down mediastorm lane.

America Admits It's Spying On America

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In May, computer specialist Edward Snowden leaked details of the National Security Agency's terrorism-busting tactics to The Guardian.

The leaked security details initially captivated the nation, and spawned fevered debates on the Fourth Amendment. The NSA insisted that it had thwarted "dozens" of terrorist acts through the programs.

President Obama has introduced a series of checks and balances for the surveillance programs, but polls show that already, people didn't really care all that much about the NSA surveillance. "Protect The Fourth" protests were attended by a fraction of the crowds that showed up to express their disappointment with George Zimmerman's acquittal.

America Was Gripped By Mass Shootings – And Then It Wasn't

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Since 2009, the U.S. has seen at least one mass shooting per month, with at least four civilian deaths apiece. The media storm regarding gun control reached fever pitch in 2012, when it felt like shootings were hitting the headlines one after the other: a theater in Colorado; a temple in Wisconsin; an army base in Texas.

The media furore peaked with the December shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults died. President Obama leapt into the gun-control debate by arguing for background checks and cutting down on high-capacity magazines. Hopeful advocates took the legislation to Congress — but the bid for gun control failed, and no substancial changes were enacted. President Obama publicly announced his bitter disappointment ("This is a shameful day for Washington") but the debate almost entirely died down.

The World Is Aghast By The Arab Spring, Briefly

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In 2010, conflict broke out in the Arab world. It's thought that dissatisfaction with the rulers of the region, combined with poor economic conditions, were behind the "Arab Spring" uprising. Rebellions started in Tunisia, then spread to Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, and Yemen.

Violence swept through the region and nearby parts of North Africa; presidents and governments were ousted from their positions; protests ranged from minor to severe and nationwide; and to date, the death toll is estimated at 120,000.

Initially, debate raged from both inside and outside America, with citizens divided over what the Obama administration should do to help. But three years later, though the conflict rages on, critics claim the Western world is desensitized to the sheer amount of bloodshed in the region — and that the media has moved on.

The Catholic Sex Scandal Appalls

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In the early 2000s, decades of sexual abuse by priests of the Catholic Church hit the spotlight. The Church faced thousands of allegations of child sex-abuse from all over the globe, with some dating back a half-century. Millions of dollars were awarded to victims in compensation, and several Church districts were forced to file for bankruptcy.

Victims spoke out about their experiences, the press accused the Church of covering up years of horror, as the institution faced harsh criticism and countless lawsuits. By 2010, the Pope was in full-on damage-control mode, and publicly apologized to the victims. The institution implemented new measures to protect children, but it hasn't rid itself of the sex-abuse association.

iPhone Promises To Change Everything, Does

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Remember when 'Apple' was just something that sat around in the fruit bowl?

The first-generation iPhone arrived in 2007, as Steve Jobs declared: "I have been looking forward to this for two and a half years... Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone."

The phone's tagline was "This Is Only The Beginning," and man, was it was right. In 2007, Nokia and Palm led the smartphone market — though the iPhone is today referred to as the first "real" smartphone, because it got people regularly doing things other than texting and calling. Jobs' first phone model revolutionized an entire industry, spawning a plethora of devices. The phone's integration of high-speed internet worked as a catalyst for the digital age, and by 2011, there was even an iPhone in space. More than half of American adults today own a smartphone, and that's not even mentioning the impact of tablets and laptop computers. So, yeah, New Normal.

Nuclear Threats Hover, Then Are Forgotten About

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It's hard to believe, but Iran and North Korea's nuclear efforts weren't always the butt of economic sanctions and bad jokes.

When it first emerged that Iran had implemented a nuclear program, everyone was concerned about what exactly they were planning on doing. Reports surfaced in 2009 that North Korea, too, had become a "fully fledged nuclear power," but America assessed that both countries posed no real nuclear threat and dialed down the tension. Both countries remain in diplomatic hot water, but hardly anyone's panicking these days. Famous last words, we know.