We are living in what is being termed the ‘connection economy’; never before in human history have connections been so important. Social media platforms such as Facebook are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and generate billions of dollars in profit from advertising. We are connected to our mobile devices and the value of our connectivity is immense.
These technologies have also transformed how we consume the news; Facebook, Twitter and more recently Snapchat have become huge news sources, allowing us to see news stories unfolding in real time from anywhere on the planet. Generally with no editorial, we can watch news events – sometimes horrific in nature – in real time, like some strange reality TV show.
Another storm has hit, another person stabbed, another child missing, another shooting.
Another bad thing has happened…
Without a filter, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with yet another world shattering news report of something bad happening somewhere in the world. I’ve blogged in the past about how it only tends to be bad news that gets reported and, as it happens in real time, it makes the bad news seem more real. It makes it seem more connected, to our lives.
It’s easy to think things are progressively getting worse: that there are more murders, more disasters, more terror attacks. And, perhaps, some things are getting worse.
But there are also a lot of things getting better. Each year human life expectancy improves, each year more people are brought out of poverty, each year more diseases are cured or eliminated. But such stories are not so readily served up for our consumption.
The bad news dominates. Waves and waves of unpleasant, unfiltered and unrequested content. This shapes how we feel about the world around us and, crucially, how we fear the world around us.
There are those who take advantage of such fear. It can be used to stoke feelings that drive people to vote for certain policies or politicians; ones that restrict freedoms, increase isolation, and stoke national pride to a level that de-humanises people in desperate need of help.
There are a lot of things in the world right now that are unpleasant. There are a lot of terrible, tragic things happening every single day – there have been for years, decades, centuries. But until recent years we couldn’t connect to these events through our news feeds on a minute by minute basis.
This means that we are getting more and gripped by fear, convinced that the world is getting worse, that more and more terrible things are occurring on an increasing basis. This makes it all too easy to follow those who promise to do something about it, without considering what we can do about it ourselves.
Some things are bad, and some things may get worse. But overall – if you take a long look at humanity – most of us have never had it so good. Try to remember that. Smile, enjoy life and make sure you share the good in the world. You might have to look a little harder to find them but, trust me, the good news stories are out there.
Let’s make happiness the breaking news story; let’s make hope, achievement and human kindness the stuff we connect with.