Thursday, January 09, 2014

There’s always good news

There’s ALWAYS good news out there, and despite what the media and politicians tell us, the world we live in is still a pretty amazing place. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of that.

Vlog Brothers are ready to help: In the video above, John Green gives us “14 Reasons 2014 May Be the Best Year Ever”. Well, mostly it’s about why things aren’t anywhere near as bad as people think they are. At any rate, it’s interesting how so much of what he says is stuff we could know if we looked into the statistics. We have to look, too, because the news media and politicians don’t tell us the good stuff.

The video below is by John’s brother Hank Green. He tells us that “The Golden Gate Bridge Didn't Collapse!!” Specifically, his video is about “why we think the world is super screwed up and getting worse every day when, in fact, the world is pretty OK and getting better every day.”

For the newsmedia, it’s long been a case of “if it bleeds, it leads”, which means that bad news—wars, murders and other crimes, scandals and conflict of every description—will always be reported more prominently than a good news story, no matter how big it is. In fact, when a good news story is so big that the media can’t ignore it, they’ll still place it after bad news items because that’s “real” news and the good news is “fluff”.

We can’t blame our journalist friends for this—well, not entirely: Editors and producers decide what news gets emphasised, and if you ask them they’ll openly tell you that bad news sells newspapers and gets viewers to watch the TV news. They’re only meeting demand, they’ll tell you.

Politicians have no ready-made excuses for focusing on the negative. Sure, the zero-sum nature of politics—if you win, I lose, so I must win and you must lose—means that politicians cannot admit that anything their opponents and adversaries does is any good or has any even remotely good aspects. And, sometimes, that’s even logical: People who have diametrically opposite political views will see the same thing from completely opposite perspectives.

However, what’s bad about politicians’ behaviour is that they spin facts in an attempt to make them say the opposite of what they really say. They do this particularly during election campaigns, but, really, being negative and wilfully contrary seems to be the top talent of most politicians.

Politicians get away with it because the newsmedia doesn’t challenge them, being so obsessed with the negative themselves—plus, having two sides of a political debate duke it out makes for good TV ratings and newspaper sales. So, it’s not like the newsmedia has any incentive to inject reason and rationality into a political dust-up—even when it’s all based on at least one of the politicians spouting utter nonsense.

Which brings me back to the Vlog Brothers. The point of their videos is that the world is a far better place, despite everything, and is going in a far better direction, all things considered, than most of us are aware. In fact, things are far better than we even CAN be aware.

We can’t fact-check every politician, and we don’t have time to go searching out the ample good news in the world, but every once in awhile we should do a little of both—the second in particular. When the world seems particularly awful, when we’re pretty well convinced that our fellow humans are worthless meatbags, when we’re closest to despair about the very survival of our planet, that’s a great time to go looking for some good news—and it’s always out there. Think of it as a kind of antidote to all the negativity, something to help us carry on working to fix the bad things about life or the planet.

Maybe that can help us go make some good news, too.

No comments: