“People should realize that being pessimistic about the world we live in is an option … optimism is also an option. It gives more energy and eventually, with this type of energy we can make a better world for ourselves, for our children and our grandchildren.” – Charles Groenhijsen
As you all know, in my monthly blog I always talk about technology, innovation or entrepreneurship. During these days, in which we all have a lot of time to reflect, I would like to talk about other factors that I think are essential for the future and the present that come to us. I hope you like it.
We are facing an unprecedented situation. Dear reader, I hope you are reading me from the comfort of your home. Difficult times accompany us, but we must, with every sense of personal responsibility, remain optimistic. Let the virus pass to remain in the past and begin to build a future under the foundations of solidarity, community, and human power.
The events of the last few weeks have led me to reflect on the role of the media in the state of mind of the population. It is a reality that we are going through an unprecedented health crisis, but to what extent the media is fulfilling their main informative purpose and instead is leaning to “easy” actions that stimulate virality at any price.
The quality of news vs. virality and engagement
The media, facing the growing need to produce content that appeals to the reader, have been sacrificing the quality and point of view of the information provided. Adding to the scene the damage of the famous “fake news” distributed mainly by social networks. They have become sources of baits to arouse curiosity that leads us to “click more.”
The reality is that media communications have an enormous influence and are a fundamental part of constructing public opinion and of the feelings of society in general. Newspapers, television, and radio remain important champions in the dissemination of basic information and can help to generate understanding if it is presented fairly, impartially and non-inflammatory. In some cases, they are an instrument for spreading false, incendiary messages and values that do not promote respect, dialogue, and a healthy discussion. Negative messages can even divide communities and facilitate the perpetuation of stereotypes that fuel violence and disinformation.
The media often seems to prefer to dwell on conflict, coupled with drama to sell newspapers and attract audiences. This means that extreme views gain more space than the feelings of most citizens who may have more balanced and positive perspectives.
It is vitally important to return and emphasize the constructive role of the media, where its mission is to provide realistic recognition of current problems and to provide information assertively and with the responsibility and vocation to inform. Sounds idyllic, it may be so, but it will become a fundamental necessity to survive in the massive and competitive media market.
The traditional media seeking their adaptation to the online world, have lost the essence of informing to be attractive as well as the news outlets that have emerged on the network. We can find the country’s most representative newspapers sharing memes and unreliable information, without verifying its veracity. It is essential that the media, regardless of their online or offline channel, find their essence again, reporting with quality, focusing on the responsibility that falls on their shoulders: the mental health of each one of the readers.
The responsibility of us as consumers.
Traditionally, media seek to communicate what people are interested in. People are naturally drawn to negative news, in part because our brains are primed to explore the excitement and danger on the environment to stimulate survival. But being exposed to fear-inducing stimuli repeatedly can make us feel powerless, which does not help our well-being or society in general.
In all human models and systems, the search for balance is a constant for the flow and development of society. The transmitter (the media) must embrace within their communication strategies, a common good point of view and take responsibility which entails their authority. With the commitment of giving us a vision of the world in which we live in, the bad and the good.
The receiver (consumer) today has the power, thanks to social networks, to function as a transmitter and news receiver. So, the responsibility of both aspects falls on each of us. It is in our power to demand the information quality provided by the traditional and digital media, to stimulate, both personally and in the immediate environment, questioning, researching and sharing information from corroborated channels. At the same time, we must decide to strengthen social networks, spreading what can cause a positive impact in the areas of action within our reach.
The Power of Balance: The Importance of Constructive News.
Constructive News isn’t just about cheesy facts or love stories. Constructive journalism is focused on progress and opportunities. Good positive journalism is solution-focused.
The media shape our world, excessive negativity in the press, destroys our society and gives us a half-hearted view of the world. Informing ourselves with news with a constructive approach allows us to find out about the entire range of events in our global society. There are facets of people, institutions, companies, cities or countries that are positive and worth knowing about them.
Consuming constructive news can keep us motivated, supporting us in reducing stress and anxiety. Favouring our psychological well-being and the people around us.
If we were to carry out a worldwide survey, surely most of the interviewees would say that the world is getting worse, more violent, with greater inequalities, etc. Although there are, indeed, many things to improve, the reality is that all objective indicators show that we are getting much better each year worldwide, concerning rates of violence, poverty, infant mortality, women’s inequality, etc.
The question is obvious. If the world is constantly improving objectively, people’s subjective appreciation does not follow this line? The answer is that the means of communication that are the filter between reality and the perception of reality that we have, distort it, making us focus only on what is going wrong. This is done by the false belief that the negative sell more.
This attitude, in addition to being many times dishonest, is very dangerous, it makes us see a world that is getting worse and worse, with more dangers, therefore citizens are attracted to easy solutions, to support extreme political positions, which offer order in exchange for individual freedom, cutting rights that have cost a lot to gain. Think about the profile of the politicians that many of the world’s greatest powers have and what are they proposing.
Health crisis, not war.
I will give you an example of rabid news about what I mean. We are having a health crisis, not a war. This point is very important in how we should approach it and how we should get out of it. Honestly, it seems out of place to talk about war and to show the face of the military more than of health experts, which is what we need and those who must define the steps to follow. Those who will bring us out of this crisis are the doctors and scientists, and after this, we must surely increase our budget in health and science, not in the military structure.
We are therefore facing a complex situation and challenges. If we maintain a positive and constructive approach to things, to improve the world, we have lived in, the future is optimistic. It is up to us and we must demand from our media objectivity and a real and balanced perception of reality, not biased by interests that are often unspeakable.