Against a backdrop of angst and trauma, a pervading sense of powerlessness takes hold. The good, noble and free is being systematically muscled out by evil, hate and discord. The world is, or so it seems, a frightening place.
The increase in depression and psychiatric conditions over recent years would seem to support the hypothesis that “things are getting worse”(1)(2). But is the world really more hostile than ever? Is our only recourse to hunker-down and brace ourselves for the coming onslaught?
Fear drives modern media. From the news agencies that want to be first to tell us the big story, to the advertisers wanting more than their fair share of our cash, the message is clear; fear breaks through the melee and arrest our attention. Plain and simple, fear sells.
The world at our fingertips, each swipe reveals a new trauma. With more detail than we can handle we are told of tragedies far removed from our lives and upon which we can have no affect. The effect of this can weigh heavy, subconsciously shaping our view of the world.
Yet, whilst we don’t want to be completely oblivious to what is happening beyond the frontiers of our life, limiting our exposure to bad news may be good for our wellbeing. It is well known that it takes as many as 20 compliments to offset the effect of one criticism. Perhaps the same is true of news stories?
And now the good news…
You may have to look for them, but there are good things happening in the world. Some news website have their “also in the news” or “strange news” sections, featuring more light-hearted moments. Better yet, we can be the good news that many need to hear.
Evidence suggests that social emotional contagion, although not well understood, is an observable phenomenon. It’s not just moods that spread across our social networks; obesity, divorce and even starting or stopping smoking do too.(3)
Whilst this may all seem threatening, there is another side of the coin; the opportunity and possibility of sharing the positive in the world. A smile, love and hope. And if any of that’s a struggle, you could resort to sharing the archetypal youtube cat video on facebook!