Saturday, January 23, 2016

History and Perspective

We can no longer blame mainstream media for their news selectivity. Like most markets, they are largely a mirror to what people want. Not what we say we want. Social Media does the same thing. If people want to get heard, the best way to do it is to say something divisive in an emotional way. People who agree already will bounce that idea around in their echo chamber as it provides their view extra strength. People who disagree may feel obliged to respond in equal but opposite tones. The message will spread. We hear lots of bad stuff because bad stuff spreads.

I am not a 'the world is only improving' guy, but there is a lot of good news. A fantastic book to read is 'The Better Angels of Our Nature' by Steven Pinker. History and perspective have a habit of being very different from our narrow world views. History and perspective are great teachers. Max Roser also does a great job on Our World in Data providing 'visual news' but over a much longer time frame. He focuses on the things we should care about like poverty, violence, health, education and pollution. 

It may not make the news, but there is a lot of good work being done in the world. Sometimes that is worth celebrating.

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