I listened to this interview on NPR with Gregg Easterbrook discussing his latest book: It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.
His work raises an interesting point: despite the facts showing things have never been better for us, we’ve bought into the story that things are really bad.
Why is that?
Part of the reason is the media with its repetition of scary events and doom and gloom predictions. It’s a lot easier to sensationalize bad news than it is to talk up good news. In fact, most days you have to go looking for the good news – but it’s always there.
Search good news for a reminder that there are good people in the world doing good things.
Another part of the reason is politicians and their supporters playing to our fears and taking advantage of our general ignorance about what’s going on in the world.
There are people online and in the media pushing special interest agendas. They are telling us things that are not true and relying on most of us not having the resources or awareness to notice.
These people are using an age-old tactic: say something often enough and loud enough and people will come to believe it’s the truth.
They are also relying on our tendency to listen to sources we agree with – to stay within our belief bubbles.
Plain dishonesty for political purposes is nothing new.
Unfortunately, dishonesty spreads more rapidly these days, thanks to social media, but we share the blame when we don’t question the lies and propaganda pushed our way and simply share them with our networks.
When we blindly accept the views expressed on our favorite online or cable news sources as the truth or take the words of politicians belonging to our party at face value, we end up believing what the young are rightly naming as bullshit.
This is a worldwide problem. It’s how the far right and the far left sway political discussions and distort voting patterns in democracies.
Countries are also playing the game across borders and interfering in the political processes of friends and foes alike – thanks to the reach of social media.
Thankfully, there are people like Gregg Easterbrook reminding us that it is better than it looks.
It’s time more of us took notice.
Peter Mulraney is the author of My Life is My Responsibility: Insights for Conscious Living.