Zu Magazine is a publication of Zu Media. Below is an article from Issue 2: Contentment
Staff Writer | Dani Herrera
Everyday we are told the world is falling apart. It seems that we are bombarded with negative news daily. Twenty-four hour news channels bring footage of fires, natural disasters and political strife into our homes and to the forefront of our minds.
Negative news is now impossible to ignore. However, according to sociologists, political scientists and psychologists, the world may not actually be in such bad shape.
“Media competition means that journalists and editors have incentive to use emotionally powerful visuals and story lines to gain and maintain ever-shrinking news audiences,” political scientist and associate professor at The Maxwell School, Shana Gadarian, said.
Different news avenues cover the same or similar stories in an attempt to gain a larger audience. Stories are drawn out by being redone to include new details or facts about world events.
Barry Glassner, a sociologist and professor at the Lewis & Clark College, went so far as to mention that the media “thrives” on these horrible events and titled this news generation, “The Culture of Fear.”
“The brain reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. There is a greater surge in electrical activity. Thus, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat news than good news,” John Cacioppo, founder and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, said.
What this essentially means is that one dismal story of the day will outweigh an uplifting one. With constant access to world news, we will always have a chance to learn of heartbreaking stories.
While upsetting stories make us more susceptible to negative emotions, positive stories help us develop skills of coping and interaction with the world. Good news is shown to have a “greater overall effect on the way we perceive things,” according to theorist and psychologist Martin Seligman.
News sources such as the Good News Network and Huffpost Good News are fighting to combat the negativity that has defined these past few years. They produce articles filled with heartwarming, believe-in-humanity-again stories.
Sites like BuzzFeed also produce compilations of happy articles or facts.
Instagram accounts such as @gvoquotes offer positive quotes everyday, and @overheardla provides laughable conversations between Los Angeles residents.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by negative news, here are some things to try that may help:
- Connect with others. When the world is going through tough times, talk to others about what you’re feeling. Connect with and support those affected by natural disasters or tragedies. Communicate with the world around you.
- Be open minded about the issues of today. Don’t shut out others because of a difference in thinking. Try to see things from a variety of perspectives.
- Say what you’re thankful for each day. Bring some much-needed positivity into the world by expressing gratitude regularly.
- Be aware while not wallowing. An alternative to cutting out the news completely is to be mindful of how much you’re exposing yourself to. Incorporate some positive news sources to balance out the negativity.