is it the end of the world?
“When will 2016 be over?”
This is a statement which I’ve been reading and hearing quite a lot these days. People think that the world is becoming worse and worse by the second. Well, I’m writing this to let you know that that’s not the case. Calm down. Humans tend to forget bad memories; it’s how our brains work in order to cope and move on, whether it’s from grief, bad news, or loss.
You hear bad news about terrorists, bombings, and extreme ideologies that promote racism and the polarization of societies — as if life were black and white, west versus east, Democrat versus Republican. Listening to news about mass shootings and evil terrorist organizations makes you feel like the world is ending. Well, its not.
The only reason that this is a universal sentiment these days is because of one thing: information. More than 3.5 billion people living on this planet have access to the Internet, which obviously has eased the way information has been communicated since the 1990s, which ultimately changed everything. However, the mobile revolution that started in 2007 made information more reliable and accessible to everyone. It toppled dictators and stopped coups. The most recent incident in Turkey is a testament to the above.
The real difference is that small stories: racism, hate crime, and religious extremism, have always existed; it’s just more exposed now. Since the rise of social networks, people started expressing themselves to their friends at first, and when they got more comfortable they decided to express themselves to the world. Opinions become notions. The more you know, the more you see the world for what it is: complicated. News channels make you feel that Armageddon is right around the corner. It’s not that they really care about you knowing, it’s to keep you hooked and for them to increase ratings and viewership. It’s a simple business rule: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” If you are offered something for free and you can’t tell what the catch is, you are the catch.
A more positive example are these feel-good videos, which go viral on Facebook. These usually end with the statement, “Faith in humanity restored.” A group of friends film one of their buddies breaking a stereotype or acting poor to see how people treat the homeless, and then surprise the do-gooder by rewarding them for their good deed when he or she thought no one was watching. Fifteen years ago, those kids could’ve filmed the same videos, but the amount of people who would’ve watched that video would’ve been limited to their circle. The ability to produce and share images and video content now makes it easy for any type of content to go viral. This, however, gave us a different look at the world.
To put things in perspective, ask the question: How many families die in North Korea every year because they are considered traitors to this ludicrous regime? You wouldn’t know about them for one reason. They don’t have access to the Internet or smartphones. We only hear of the misery they go through from people who escaped, but never on film. That’s why the world doesn’t care, because people need to see to believe and then feel.
You might think that the world in 2016 is a darker place, but — fact is — it’s not. We simply know more about things that we couldn’t have ever dreamed of knowing fifteen years ago.