If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I have often written about the discernment needed when navigating news. News agencies and social media platforms sell sensationalist and mainly bad news. They catastrophize everything. For example, when the ANC had overwhelming majority support, news agencies warned of the danger of a one-party state. Now that we have moved towards a distribution of power, we have been bombarded with news about the dangers of a coalition government. The true story is that democracy is working in South Africa. This is a good news story, it’s not bad news! Coalition governments are complicated, so beware, it will provide plenty of fodder for bad news stories from news agencies.
In addition, news reporting has become progressively more divisive and further removed from the truth. Increasingly we’re finding ourselves in echo chambers. Regardless of what social media platform we are on, we are confronted by the same or similar bad news at every turn.
And if we don’t actively search for alternative views - those challenging our own and those of our circle - we’ll get sucked into that echo chamber even further. We have seen this play out during the COVID pandemic where people were divided further into their own corners: first about the truth of the virus, its origin, existence, and nature, and then about the most appropriate policies and vaccines. The opposing corners of the ring became ever more confident of their viewpoint because they were fed news that confirmed their beliefs and biases. The viewpoints they consumed skewed towards the people they believed.
The ability to see opportunities and recognise the good things in life are essential ingredients for growth and prosperity. Even in financial markets those who are optimistic fare better in the long term because global economies tend to grow, and asset prices generally trend upwards in the long term. Yet, news agencies generally cloak financial news in anxiety and negativity.
We must realise that the goals of news agencies and social media platforms are directly opposed to the goal of a contented, healthy, and financially secure life. To achieve a balanced viewpoint, you must actively search for the good news, because the news will not feed it to you. And you need to vigorously search for alternative views to those in your echo chamber.
Seeking a balanced truth will become a key skill for thriving in the future.
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//26 November 2021