It’s Time To Change The Narrative

Sandstone Falls in West Virginia.

Throughout the past month, my brain has been consumed with thoughts and ideas about how we communicate and how we consume media as a society. Welcome, to the tangled monstrosity that is my brain on a daily basis.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes

I’m going to paint a picture for you of the average morning of many of the people that I think we all know. It could be you. It could be your Mother, Brother, or best friend.

We wake up every morning, and start our routines. Making coffee, taking showers, and preparing for the work day ahead. At some point, we reach for our phones, our iPad’s, or laptops and start sifting through a landslide of notifications from our social media outlets.

As we scroll through our various feeds we’re inundated with horrific, pessimistic, doomsday headlines. They’re in our trending sections, shared by our friends, even in direct messages. Every morning, my RSS feeds are teeming with articles titled to snatch our attention and shock us.

There’s a reason for that.

We have more access to information now than ever before. The ways we access our news and information are changing by the minute, and this is a boon. Having quick and convenient access to news and media creates a strong base for a well informed society, or it should.

The issue becomes, I believe, that we are increasingly presented with more and more baited content designed to elicit strong emotional reactions. Mostly of the negative variety. While some of it is powerful, positive, and inspiring I find that the overwhelming majority are titled to shock us, and force that click.

There’s a reason for that. News agencies, media companies, even some of the organizations created to benefit great causes, know that creating and writing this kind of content will usually result in traffic to their sites. It’s really that simple.

It’s also damaging. Faced with a constant barrage of these articles often leads to anger and hopelessness. Studies show that cognitive vulnerability often leads to inaction. It’s nearly impossible to hold a positive outlook on life and the things that we’re passionate about when everything that we read and watch is usually at best pessimistic.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” — Picasso

It’s time we changed the narrative.

The thing about all media, is that it requires our action and attention to exist. We as a society choose what we read, what we click, and what we watch.

It’s time to be more positive. Far too often in my recent conversations with people I’ve come across the concept that we can’t do anything about this. That it just…is. I completely disagree. We hold the power to shape the things that we see!

I’m not suggesting that the world is full of rainbows and puppies, and that attention shouldn’t be given to the serious issues that we’re faced with on a daily basis. I think we need to embrace those issues in a more positive way. If we can change the narrative, we can change the outcomes.

The Challenge…

So, I’m going to leave you all with a challenge. Promote positivity. Stop responding to the “shockbait” and start consuming more positive stories. Engage with people. Connection to others remains one of the strongest emotional pulls in our lives. Try to be more understanding, and find some common ground.

Writers, reporters, news agencies, and organizations…craft headlines and content that inspire your audiences. Create strong calls to action that empower them to become leaders within their communities, and empower others in the process.

Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

Finally, to everyone that reads this. Understand the power that you possess. Whether you’re social or anti-social, wealthy or poor, young or old…you have the ability to change things. We “vote” every single time we click on a piece of content. Every time we share it. Let’s start changing the narrative, inspiring one another, and taking hold of the fear, anger, and hopelessness that sometimes holds us down.

Change is not borne on the backs of government or the few, it’s borne by the masses. If we simply give without expectation, whether it be our time, words, money…great things can happen!

Thanks so much for reading! If you’ve found this piece valuable, feel free to spread the message and give it some love! I’m a big fan of social engagement, if you’d like to chat about what I write or what I do, contact me! I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great weekend folks!

Marblehead Light, Ohio.