Can we counterbalance the bad and fake news that assaults us from all directions? A new space on Facebook plans to do just that.
Look closely at some of the spectacular images of Earth from space and you can see the fragile, shimmering skin of our atmosphere – the vast majority of it a wafer-thin but life-sustaining 10 miles in thickness.
To all intents and purposes, we live our lives within a bubble. Seemingly safe as we look up, but perilously vulnerable from the perspective of space.
Recently that analogy has felt even more relevant than ever. In the modern world of instant, borderless communications from ever-multiplying sources, we seem to exist in an environment where we are dependent for the thoughts we share on a narrow stratum of sources.
In a world where differences of opinion have become societal schisms, and political allegiances a determinant for whom we befriend or unfriend, we only read, watch or listen to the “news” or read the opinions that fit into our worldview.
More has become less, while alternative facts hold as much or more credence in some people’s minds as the real ones that they would prefer not to accept.
Add to that the worrying proliferation of “fake news” and the airtime afforded peddlers of “views” intended to shock and offend, and it’s hardly surprising that we restrict our input.
You could argue that we haven’t got time to read everything. Or that the people spouting nonsense aren’t worth our time. Or we don’t want our minds polluting by the offensive thoughts of those who espouse a different set of values.
But what none of us can control is the fact that news from whatever sources we choose are invariably negative. Go onto Google News and scan down through the headlines and you’ll be lucky to find more than one or two that will do anything but depress and dismay you.
Even the news shared on Facebook reflects that overwhelming negativity – even outweighing all the cat videos.
Woken up with the joys of spring bounding in your heart? Just cast your eyes over the daily newspaper’s headlines… that’ll put your optimism back in the box where it belongs.
Not surprising, perhaps. After all, we are now living in a world where the leader of the supposedly “free” part of it appears not only appears mentally unstable and pathologically dishonest, but intent on sowing discord and division. Even the decision last year to leave the EU unleashed divisive forces within the UK which are still festering.
Meanwhile, the world appears to be filled with danger, hate, economic uncertainty, cruelty and crime.
Is there a solution?
Well unless Trump undergoes a Damascene conversion and someone in the UK Government has a magic wand up their sleeve, we aren’t likely to get a smile from those directions.
The only way out of this is to gain a sense of perspective.
Yes, there are some terrible things happening in our world. But it’s a very big world, occupied by seven billion people. Each day, wonderful things happen. Beautiful, uplifting, inspiring things that remind us of the privilege of spending our lives on a planet that is filled with natural beauty.
Every day, kind, altruistic people care for others, help strangers, save lives and make the world a better place. There are, after all, more good, decent people in this world than bad.
It’s just that we don’t hear enough of these stories. Because our media prefer to drown us with all the bad things happening.
So why don’t we fight back? After all, we have the communication tools to share good news – just as we can share the bad.