[Warning: I'm gonna use this intro to today's issue to dumb some thoughts on you. Sorry, but I just need to get this off my chest.]
This week's motivational quote (see at the bottom) is such a fitting and urgently needed piece of advice for this day and age.
To be honest, yesterday I felt quite depressed after reading some really dire articles
about where this planet is headed. Talking to friends and family in Germany didn't help either. There, like almost everywhere right now, the media is riling everyone up about how unsafe Europe has become. (Because it's about how safe we feel, not how safe it actually is, of course.)
Even my mum, who is often quick to jump on the 'Everything is horrible!' bandwagon, told me after the Munich attacks: "I had to turn off the TV. Every channel was reporting live, competing against each other for the highest number of casualties. It was repulsive."
For months now, I've been trying to make my mum realise that she's never lived in a safer
period. I did a bit of googly digging and then sent her some (German) articles from reputable sources that put the news coverage in perspective. And I think she found some solace in that, at least for the time being.
To me it kinda showed how many of her generation depend on traditional media outlets to stay in the loop (in her case one newspaper and a couple of TV stations). Compare that to how I consume news: there's been links to at least 30 different media outlets in the last 2 hours of my Twitter stream. My Pocket reading list has currently 19 articles lined up, only six from the same sources (Medium, The Atlantic). Sure, I live in an echo chamber of sorts too, but when it comes to finding facts, stats and analysis, the diverse range of sources the web offers beats any one newspaper or TV station. I jump not only from one source to another, but also between types of media – podcasts, streaming radio, articles, videos. My experience of the news and how the media responds to news is completely different to many other folks who aren't necessarily glued to the screen eight hours a day.
My mum has a fairly liberal, progressive worldview in many ways, which is surprising given the fact that she reads a fairly conservative, local newspaper and has many very conservative friends and family members. Though, I think she's a very typical consumer of mainstream news. Like most of my small-town family, she forms her opinions (and fears) by consuming what is served to her in the most convenient and accessible way: the paper during breakfast and the eight-o-clock news after dinner.
I might be wrong, but I feel that many of the people who vote in extreme ways, who want to vent their frustration in the next election, fall into the above category of news consumers.
In order for people like my mum to feel less fearful and more hopeful (and vote accordingly), we need to become active campaigners for a more balanced, diverse, and thoughtful consumption of news. We need to calmly remind them that the business of news is booming when everyone competes for the most outrageous statement and the most terrifying headline.
Your parents might be more 'connected' to online news than my mum, but I'm sure all of us have a family member that's currently disgruntled and fearful, willing to vote for anything as long as it means change. Talk to them, ask them about their fears, and remind them that every news item has an agenda. There is no 'neutral' news reporting, especially not in times when fear sells like hotcakes.
Thanks to Chad for sending in the photo of his lovely office.