BY: ERIK HUSTON
What are the last six headlines that you remember seeing from a traditional news media source? Chances are they were not all that heart warming. And this is no accident; according to Peter Diamandis, in the TED Talk Abundance is our Future, “the news media preferentially feeds us negative stories because that’s what our minds pay attention to.” This has its roots in our ancient history.
When we were cave people, or more accurately savannah-dwelling hominids, we would literally scan the savannah plains for danger. Now our horizon is on our television, computer and mobile devices. News media have caught on to this, and opt for the kinds of headlines that will pull your attention in; headlines that make you feel at risk or even threatened. All of this negative news programing seeps into the way we look at the world and feeds into a negative worldview. As Diamandis says: “given all of our digital devices that are bringing all the negative news to us seven days a week, 24 hours a day, it’s no wonder that we’re pessimistic. It’s no wonder that people think that the world is getting worse.”
According to Peter Diamandis, in the TED Talk Abundance is our Future, “the news media preferentially feeds us negative stories because that’s what our minds pay attention to.”
Once again one of our natural human biases is perverting our judgment. We may see negativity everywhere, but the stats are in; the world is actually getting better every day.
In the words of Diamandis:
“Let’s look at what this last century has been to see where we’re going. Over the last hundred years, the average human lifespan has more than doubled; average per capita income adjusted for inflation around the world has tripled. Childhood mortality has come down by a factor of 10. Add to that the cost of food, electricity, transportation, communication has dropped 10 to 1,000-fold. Steve Pinker has showed us that, in fact, we’re living during the most peaceful time ever in human history. And Charles Kenny shows that global literacy has gone from 25 percent to over 80 percent in the last 130 years. We truly are living in an extraordinary time. And many people forget this.”
It may be true that technology is making our lives easier every day, but there is a dark side to this story. When our technology does not have a holistic plan in mind for its development and use, we get into trouble. The environment is one example that can never be overstated. Circuit boards, which we use in everything from computers to mobile devices, have a massive environmental impact. And once these circuit boards are implanted in their new technologies, these technologies cannot be effective at reducing energy usage and emission.
Diamandis explains how news media know that we naturally look for danger, and purposely uses negativity to get our attention. “All of this negative news programming seeps into the way we look at the world and feeds into a negative worldview.”
This is just one of the problems that we face today regarding technology. One thing that is not addressed in Diamandis’s TED Talk is that technology is not what makes our world better – we do. Technology may help us become more informed and connected, but the majority of the information that we’re soaking in and concentrating on is negative. We must choose to live the message of peace, love and sustainability. It is only from this place of life-as-a-practice that we will see our world get better. We have the power to make a tangible difference in our world. And if we all behaved in the way we knew was right, and focused on the good in the world, we would start to see the planet in a new light.