Is the world getting worse or do we just have more immediate access to everything that’s going on in the world so we notice it more?
Maybe I’m getting old? Or maybe things truly are really bad right now? It’s honestly hard to tell.
Instant Access to News
Think about this. Just 50 years ago most of people received new in one of three main ways: The nightly news on television, a radio broadcast, or a daily newspaper.
All of that news was filtered. It wasn’t everything that happened in that particular day, it was everything that was deemed newsworthy by a news editor. Or maybe the news of the day came through a news wire like the Associated Press or Reuters, which was also filtering it’s news feed to be the things that an editor deemed most important to put on the wire.
Today you and I have access to unfiltered information. There’s not an editor on a social media platform filtering out some stories and focusing your attention on others. Instead, for better or worse, the news of the day is democratized, meaning there is no editorial filter telling you what to care about because every single human has instant access to news events (even fake ones) as they unfold. In effect, the news editors are watching what people are sharing/responding to and deciding that this must be the most important story of the moment because it’s what people seem to care about.
We Actually Need the Filter
Our brains are hard-wired to seeks out news. Maybe it’s survival thing from earlier days of humanity? I mean, if there is a dangerous animal in my village I really need to know that information. Or if there is a big storm coming I need to know that. I need that information so I know if I can go about my normal day or if I have to go respond.
Since our subconscious craves new information we have a hard time turning our attention away from what might be newsworthy to us.
We actually really need a filter or an editor in our lives to help us decide what we ought to pay attention to and what we’re OK not knowing.
And so I’ll begin with the same thought I started with: Are things actually worse today than ever or do we just know about more things that it seems like things are worse today than ever?
I don’t think we can possibly know. And, quite frankly, I am not sure it matters because, as a Christian I believe, everyone lives in the time you live and you’re in the place where you are right now because God placed you there for this time. (Eph 2:8-10)