Just from my observations, I cannot avoid the fact that people have done their fair share of criticizing and mourning over 2016. What began as hopefully a great year became ugly very quickly. We lost too many treasured souls. We got a new president who should probably stay a reality TV star. Violence continued to wreak havoc across the globe. The thing most of us are celebrating is the fact this year is almost over.
I try to be as optimistic as possible. While I can’t look into the personal lives of every individual, I know for myself that 2016 wasn’t too bad. There was definitely hardship, but those dark moments ended with incredible changes, like becoming vegan, starting this blog, and meeting the love of my life. But when I look at society from the big picture, there is plenty to dwell on that isn’t as positive.
I don’t want to point blame on anybody, but I believe the dissatisfaction with how the year turned out isn’t all in the universe spewing out every horrible thing it can think of and making it reality. There is a certain degree that we can control. Well, to a certain extent.
Admittedly, we lost some important people this year, and that is out of our control. Except we always lose people. Their social status just meant we paid greater attention. But that shouldn’t discount the fact that so many others have already passed. Maybe they weren’t as famous or well-known, their efforts were more subtle, but their lives still mattered. We cannot look back and say this is an unusual phenomenon that never happens. It might be morbid for me to say that yes, everyone dies, it’s the quality of humanity that defines us over nonliving things. Just like we always do, we persevere. We continue living knowing that those we have lost might not be here, but their impacts on this world endure.
Because I have been studying journalism as an undergrad, I have grown to analyze every piece of media I see. So when I see how negative the news has become, the headlines we choose, the obvious bias we have toward devastation because it provokes certain emotions, is injustice. I don’t even like watching or reading the news anymore on traditional platforms, especially broadcast, because if the only good thing we can find today is a short tidbit at the end of the program, there is something wrong here.
Scandal sells. We will show a much wider range of reactions from negative stories than positive ones. The number of updates about some sort of controversy from this year’s presidential candidates alone drove me nuts. This type of news, more grounded in tabloid magazines than anything, is a category in of itself that exploits people to make a quick buck. We lose sight of human behind the headline or magazine cover, seeing them more as characters than people. That is the saddest story of all.
We must also realize that because our society has become increasingly globalized, we now are paying attention to a larger scale prone to negativity. For places less fortunate than us, the suffering is more prominent and visible, and if news outlets are feeding off of that, then they’re in for a feast.
It has come to the point that we either are just waiting for the next bomb to drop, literally and figuratively. We are simultaneously immune to suffering, waiting for it happen. If some sort of devastation doesn’t occur, we’re shocked. I’d rather not admit that social media news has become significantly more uplifting than traditional platforms, especially when we already struggle with deciphering real and fake news. That’s another post for me to rant.
It’s unrealistic of me to attack broadcast news and expect them to change. Instead, I am addressing the individual consumers. Media is a business, and its target audience is us. Our viewership and responses to the news help determine what we’re seeing. If the platforms themselves don’t change, we certainly can. We can put our time and attention toward stories we really care about. We can change our attitudes and learn to analyze what we are seeing. We don’t have to sit idly back and accept what the screen tells us. If the news is saying the world is a negative place full of hardship, let’s do something about that. Let’s instead decide to focus on the everyday kindness we might overlook. Let’s dwell less on negative setbacks and instead actively help those in need.
2016 is almost over. For many, January 1st feels like a fresh start full of resolutions and hope. No matter what next year throws at us, we can overcome it. We can stand strong. We can make the most of what life hands us. Suffering is unavoidable, but how we choose to react can make a world of difference.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie