Meet Jessica Chobot From Nerdist News!

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Photo: (used with permission)

Hi there, GeekMom Mel here. If you are anything like me, you like to get your geeky news with a dash of personality, don’t you? A dash of, dare I say, humor? Well, over at, Jessica Chobot provides just those things on her Nerdist News segments. She’s covered everything from James Bond to my personal favorites, Star Wars and Godzilla, and she does it all with enthusiasm, fun, and attitude.

Not only is Jessica a fellow nerdy woman, but she is also a mom. Since that makes us pretty much kindred spirits (right? right?), I figured I’d take the opportunity to ask her a few questions about…well, a little bit of everything!

GeekMom Mel: How did you get started with Nerdist News? What’s been your favorite news to cover, and/or the weirdest?

Jessica Chobot: I started with Nerdist shortly after I ran in Chris Hardwick at the Comedy Central offices. We just randomly bumped into each other in the lobby. I was starting to find my way back into the workplace after having my son and we got to talking about that. I mentioned that, while my son was an adorable bundle of cuteness, I definitely needed to get out of the house and find something to do with myself besides changing nappies. He took pity on me and shortly after our meeting I did some freelance work for them which then led to the full time gig at the company.

The highlight working at Nerdist so far was working E3 this past year, which I believe was the first time Nerdist had a booth there (I might be wrong on that though). Video games are still very much my jam, so to be able to go and be on set again with a whole new group of people was an incredible treat. Everyone was exhausted but excited and I’d say we did a stellar job having a positive presence at that event. I would place that under my favorite news to cover.

As for the weirdest… hmmm… Everything is pretty odd. It’s not “news” but we did do an interview where I interviewed Michael Rosenbaum and the interview slowly but surely devolved into us talking about farts. It was pretty much the highlight of my career.

GMM: If you had to pick one favorite realm in the nerdiverse, what would it be?

JC: If we’re talking a place to live, I’d choose the Citadel in Mass Effect – but ONLY during peace time. I’m in no hurry to be murdered by a Reaper.

If we’re talking about a nerdy type of thing I’m into, then I’d still have to choose video games. Now that I’m a mom and have even less time to dedicate to my personal pastimes, video games is the one thing I always go back to. That and murder mysteries. And the paranormal. And Korean dramas.

GMM: How has parenthood changed your experience of being a fan, gaming, and things like that? Do you think about things differently, have you had any changes of heart?

JC: There are two things that, as a gamer, have changed for me since becoming a mom. One, the amount of time I have to dedicate to my gaming. Titles that should normally take 5 hours now take 10 or more (if I’m even able to finish them at all). Plus, because of the time crunch, I only dedicate myself to games I’m REALLY into and don’t bother trying to keep up with everything anymore. My mobile gaming has also skyrocketed, mostly due to convenience. Two, I try not to play anything where I know children will be shown suffering. Even then, something will sneak through the cracks and I’ll end up crying for days afterwards every time I think about it. Bioshock Infinites’ expansion caught me off guard and while I thoroughly enjoyed the additional game play, my heart was just crushed.

GMM: The holidays are coming, and many of us will be exposed to family members we may not have seen through much of the year. Has your family been generally accepting of your nerdy ways, even going so far as to support them, or have you had loved ones shaking their heads or giving you perplexed looks?

JC: They’ve always accepted my nerdy ways although it took me getting a career in “the ‘biz” to get them to respect it. And even despite that I don’t think they totally understand why and how I can make money doing this kind of work. My grandmother still has no idea what I do.

GMM: Do you have any particularly entertaining/embarrassing holiday stories from your past?

JC: My family is BIG into giving gag gifts. The worst was one year my parents had gotten a box for a Super Nintendo and filled it with a rock and wrapped it to give to my brother. Needless to say, that was quite an interesting Xmas morning. Luckily for my brother my parents had wrapped the actual system up in something else, so it was just a temporary scare. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person go through so many levels of different emotions so quickly!

GMM: What was the worst gift you have ever received, if you are at liberty to say?

JC: The worst, because it made NO SENSE, was when I was 12 and my grandparents got me Xmas hand towels. They were beautiful towels that I would really appreciate now but as a 12 year old, I was all,”Whhhhhaaaaattt???”

GMM: What do you think is the best way non-geeky parents can support their young nerdlings?

JC: I think acceptance is key. Just because your child is into video games, comics, or whatever doesn’t automatically make them an outcast. Nor does it mean you should attempt to force them to like other things. Instead, appreciate that they have a passion for something at such a young age and, as with EVERYTHING, keep an eye on who they’re chatting with and what they’re doing.

GMM: Any ideas for parents who might not know what to get their kids?

JC: I’m a big fan of forcing people to give me Xmas lists. Some may think that kind of kills the holiday spirit but I would rather give someone something I know they want, instead of guessing and having them go to return it on the sly.

That said, if you’re struggling for ideas, I find always has something amazing. There are also some fantastic games out this holiday season: Destiny, GTAV remastered, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Smash Bros., FarCry 4… Just remember to buy the game that is age appropriate for your child. And, of course, the Nerdist t-shirts and hoodies are a guaranteed winner 😉 !

GMM: What are some cool things Santa’s elves might consider loading the sleigh with this year?

JC: Again, I’d say that if you have a gamer on your hands, check out the holiday release titles! and are AMAZING resources for crazy/geeky gifts. Also, if your kids or significant other have a Pinterest or Keep account, check out their boards and BAM! Instant present list (I actually can’t recommend this tactic enough). As for, my big faves at our store is our Nerdist digital gift card, our coffee mug and our Enjoy Your Burrito t-shirt. Especially for geeky women, I find our shirts fit quite well which isn’t always the case for ladies looking for fun tees.

GMM: If you could get ANYTHING for a holiday gift, what would it be?

JC: I’m currently asking for a very specific trip to Japan. One where I can go to the Kansai area (specifically nearby Kyoto) and stay at one of the traditional hot springs there. I’m thinking about 2 weeks. Otherwise, I’m down for a solid 4 days of non-stop leveling of my Dragon Age: Inquisition warrior (I’m a tad obsessed at the moment).

Thanks so much to Jess Chobot for taking the time to chat. And do go over to and watch her Nerdist News segments. You won’t regret it!

Jessica Chobot currently serves as host for Nerdist News over at, as well as a freelance host for both TV and web. Jessica spent the first half of her career at IGN Entertainment where she hosted the popular web shows, IGN Strategize and The Daily Fix. From there it was only natural for her to jump into television where she hosted G4TV’s Proving Ground, alongside Ryan Dunn, and as a field correspondent for G4’s Attack of the Show and X-Play.

Fighting “Mean World Syndrome”

Image: Kiernan M., age 8

“You know, who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.”  George Gerbner

It’s been a long day. You turn on the TV news on to catch up with what’s going on, then get through a few of your TiVo’d crime shows. Maybe tomorrow you’ll help the kids make sock puppets.

But wait, is that glowing screen afflicting your family with some kind of syndrome?

A syndrome said to cause pessimism, fear, and the inability to gauge reality?

You be the judge.

It’s called Mean World Syndrome.

It’s based on the research of the late George Gerbner. His work showed that a heavy diet of violent content in news and entertainment convinces viewers the world is more dangerous than it actually is. Back when Gerbner did the bulk of his analysis, media was a smaller and quieter place. Now we have 24 hour access to news channels, movies, and net content.

Gerbner wrote,

Our studies have shown that growing up from infancy with this unprecedented diet of violence has three consequences, which, in combination, I call the “mean world syndrome.” What this means is that if you are growing up in a home where there is more than say three hours of television per day, for all practical purposes you live in a meaner world – and act accordingly – than your next-door neighbor who lives in the same world but watches less television. The programming reinforces the worst fears and apprehensions and paranoia of people.

And those who are convinced the world around them is a highly dangerous and unpredictable place have more than a heightened sense of insecurity. Gerbner found they are more likely to see violence as a solution to problems rather than to reason in more nuanced ways. Fear also drives them to take hard-line political and social attitudes.

When Gerbner testified before a congressional subcommittee in 1981, he said, “Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line measures.”

Screen shot: L. Weldon


But the world is NOT more dangerous. It just seems that way. The Center for Media and Public Affairs did a study on network coverage of murder. In a five year period the murder rate in the U.S. went down thirteen percent. But during that same time span, network coverage of murders increased three hundred percent.

Yes, we face realities too harsh for reality TV. But when crime, disaster, ecological devastation, war, and other tragedies are presented as random occurrences nothing constructive is gained. It’s normal to react with anger, fear, and sorrow because these emotions can rouse us to positive action, but we need an option.  Sometimes that’s direct action, sometimes it’s seeking deeper understanding of how to prevent these tragedies.

Problems relentlessly hyped on movies, news, and by pundits—-well, they just seem so pervasive, so disconnected from causes, so impossible to change that we feel helpless to do anything about it. That’s another effect of Mean World Syndrome.

We end up cynical, which is bad for our own health and bad for the planet. We humans are already more likely to pay attention to and remember negatives, a trait that probably helped us to survive in saber-tooth tiger days. But the long progress of humanity has much more to do with our tendency to cooperate, form close relationships, and to care. We are hard-wired for compassion, not for a mean world.

Fight Mean World Syndrome