The world we live in is full of violence, misery and suffering, or that's the way it appears. The news is awash with horrendous stories about people who've been murdered, tortured, driven from their homes or subjected to devastating poverty and illness. And these stories are coming at us 24/7 via our TVs, computers and mobile phones. It can be hard to get away from them.
Of course the way things are presented to us is a complete distortion. Lots of good things happen too, but studies have shown that bad news stories outnumber good news stories by as much as seventeen to one. The problem is the bad news stories seem to be getting increasingly alarming and worrying for many of us. In extreme cases they can stop us living normal lives; knowing that terrorists could strike anywhere at any time has left some too scared to fly or even attend public gatherings. I have read articles by people who have stopped reading or watching the news altogether, seeing it as an obstacle to their happiness.
So why is there such emphasis on the bad things that happen? Well it’s all down to the negativity bias apparently. Whether we realise it or not, we pay more attention to news stories of a negative or threatening nature; not only that, these stories have a more lasting effect on us than positive stories do. Being alert to the threats and dangers around us (so we can take action should we need to) is an aspect of our early evolutionary conditioning that is still with us. No wonder the media feeds us news that is for the most part grim and depressing.
A more optimistic view
The question is, if our usual sources of news are overloaded with negative reporting, where do we go for stories that will lift our spirits, that will give us a more optimistic view of the world? If you don't already know them, let me tell you about two publications that will deliver just that.
Positive News was launched 22 years ago as a newspaper “dedicated to quality journalism that focuses on progress and possibility”. It has recently relaunched in magazine format following a crowdfunding campaign that raised £263,000 with contributions from people across 33 countries. The magazine will carry on giving us a range of inspiring lifestyle articles which, said re-launch editor Danielle Batist “will investigate solutions critically, moving beyond the hero tale or happy story, to uncover socially relevant insights into what’s going well in the world”.
Three years ago Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington launched HuffPost Good News. Her reason for introducing this new section to the online newspaper, she said, was to “shine a much-needed spotlight on what’s inspiring, what’s positive, what’s working … and what’s missing from what most of the media chooses to cover”.
Stories that inspire
A recent HuffPost story told of Lottie, a homeless woman who, with her dog, stopped a burglar making off one night with goods he had stolen from the Oxford shop she regularly slept outside. So grateful were the shop's staff when Lottie returned the stolen items next day that they set up a fundraising page, for her and the other homeless people of Oxford, which has raised thousands of pounds. On top of that, they used the media attention to speak out against cuts to local support and services for the homeless.
This is a story of courage, gratitude and generosity, the ‘one in seventeen’ story that gets tagged on to the end of news programmes. Just like in Oxford, there are people all over the world working together in different ways to make our world a better and safer place. Theirs are the stories we need to hear about more often. They inspire us and help us forget the bad things that happen. #Society #Terrorism #War