Sunday, 29 January 2017

Addicted to bad news? Don't give up hope yet!

I'd planned to get a head's start for the week by plotting my new novel. But no sooner had I opened my computer I got sucked into social media and the dramatic executive orders being churned out in America. 

What's wrong with you? I snapped at myself, as I found myself clicking off course for the hundredth, nay, millionth time. Are you addicted to bad news?

I wasn't just scanning the tweets, I was clicking on every link and googling further sides to the story. I absorbed so much negativity I ended up with a headache and had to take a break from the novel I had forgotten to plot.

I spoke to a friend who suggested the world was being distracted on purpose so that other deals to do with our privacy rights could be made without us noticing. She suggested I disconnect and concentrate on my novel. 

But my novel seemed a bit pointless in the face of the impending world war. My mind flipped to Anne Frank and how many Muslims I could hide in my attic! 

I knew it was a mistake to continue absorbing any more rage and counter rage so I decided to distract myself by listening to people more intelligent than me. I turned to TED talks.

My first was: How the News distorts Our World View. It's an old video but I still think its relevant. In it, Alisa Miller shows a slide of a world map based on land mass...

and the world, how we see it, shaped by the news (in this example, US news 2008) 

Interesting perspective, isn't it?

I continued in my search feeling thirsty for knowledge perhaps, or guidance.    

I watched a video about why some people are more altruistic than others. It would seem that our brains have a lot to answer for. Apparently psychopaths have a smaller amygdala which makes it more difficult for them to recognise fear which in turn effects their capacity to empathise... 

Thankfully Abigail Marsh ends her talk on a positive note. She concludes that the world is getting more compassionate though it doesn't seem like it.

"There's a common perception that the world is becoming more cruel, but it's not" - Marsh says. "I think it may be because we know much more about the suffering of strangers in distant places so we now care much more about the suffering of those strangers in distant places."

Lastly, I watched a talk by former radical Jihadist, Manwar Ali

It was moving to hear Ali's story which gives hope that hearts can be changed. He makes a plea to his audience, and these are the words I'm going to end this day on:

Approach the world... life... with love. Learn to develop... to cultivate... your hearts to see goodness, beauty and truth in others and in the world. 

That way we matter more to ourselves, to each other, to our community and for me, to God.

That G word is a controversial one which I prefer to replace with Love. And I have to believe that we have more power acting from a place of love, than a place of hate.  

For a window into my writing life and occasional bad jokes, find me at Facebook/EmilyBenetAuthor

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