If you actually watch the world closely you’ll see that it’s a much more cooperative place than it’s made out to be. The reason we think it’s worse than it is is because we process our world via various media. And all media are the same in that they need money to operate, so somewhere along they line they’re beholden to someone.
Those someone’s are almost always advertisers and advertising is an extremely clever business. They spend a lot of time and money on getting human beings to think the thoughts they want them to, so they’re worth paying attention to. And it’s not just the advertisers. It’s also the medium itself. Because, to a TV network, the show is the filler and the advertisement is the point. The show exists to get you to the ad. And that’s why the world looks so bad.
Human beings will give the most attention to things that makes them frightened, angry, sad, horny or happy. And advertisers and media folks know that. That’s why on the evening news, there will always be that one story near the end where they show you something either sweet or something sexual. But the rest of the show will be about fear and things that make you upset. That’s their product. Because that’s what gets you sitting through the filler to get to the point: where they sell you their customer’s soap.
So despite what you’re told, the news is not the information you need to see and/or hear as a citizen. The news is a vehicle to advertise products and so it follows that you will see and/or hear whatever they believe will keep you focused until the ad comes on. And if they can they’ll make the show the ad itself–much like game shows, cooking shows, home decorating and even talk shows. All are excellent excuses for putting the advertising as content. That’s not to say there’s no value in the news or in cooking or decorating shows. There obviously is value there. But you shouldn’t lose sight of what their real intention is. Because it’s what shapes your world. Their motivation isn’t to make you a better cook. The motivation is to get you to buy more food and cooking utensils.
Likewise, the news tells you about every scary story it can in the hopes that you’ll help them sell ads for security companies and sleep aids. At every event they attend they will intentionally look for the most shocking people they can find—not because those people are representative of what’s really going on but–because those people will keep you watching until the shampoo ad comes on. The unfortunate byproduct of selling all of that shampoo is that you’ve gotten the idea that the world is an ugly place filled with scary people (with dirty hair) and that’s simply not accurate.
Every day a huge number of friendships are made. For everyone hurt in a tragedy there are hundreds of people who respond with compassionate action. People work hard every day keeping others safe or healthy or fed or happy. Soldier’s go into danger to protect people they will never meet. People dedicate time to charities and to look after stray dogs and cats. People help out their neighbours and they hold their friends while they cry.
People are awesome. They’re beautiful and kind and wise. But they’re also scared. Scared to be in the world because of the news, and scared to be themselves because of the ads. We have to get back into the world and out of our fearful mindsets. Because the world is a beautiful place, and our participation in it will only serve to make it more beautiful.
So who is with me? Who’s prepared to get to know a co-worker you haven’t spoken to before? Who’s prepared to strike up a friendly, complimentary conversation at the grocery store? Who’s simply prepared to walk down the street and look people in the eye and smile?
The world is a great place. Yes rose bushes have thorns. But they have roses too. So focus on the flowers. If you do you won’t believe the size of the garden of wonderfulness that you will begin to live within.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations in Edmonton and around the world.
PS Check out these fine examples of goodness: