The Trainwreck Effect
Humans express a range of emotions in response to natural or cultural disasters. Some people mobilize and get busy figuring out how to help. Other people withdraw and pull up the drawbridge, hoping to escape harm through sheltering. When it comes to what we pay attention to, there is a widespread interest in witnessing the destruction. Like a car accident or a trainwreck, people have been glued to the worst parts of these storms.
It’s understandable, certainly. This is not something that you see every day and one way you can surely appreciate the power of the natural world is by viewing the flimsiness of manmade objects in the path of a storm. However, this is only part of the story, and it is bad business. Serving up disaster and destruction is why our national media outlets are losing their credibility every single day.
Always an Alternative
Instead of fueling the bad habit of doomscrolling, people in media always have the option of focusing on the solution. If there is no way to stop what is coming, then we can also search for the beautiful, we can focus on the good, we can adhere to the true. So much of our reality is determined by our perspective.
If we want to achieve a positive outcome, we must assume a comic disposition, even in the darkest of times. Remember the movie Life is Beautiful starring Roberto Benigni? Set in WWII as prisoners of the German concentration camps, the character attempts to shelter his son from the sheer malevolence of the world surrounding them. He knows that despite the horrors of the Nazi regime, their only hope to survive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to search for the beautiful.
The Power of Choice
Even in a world that seems overdetermined, where a rational sense of the future seems foreclosed, we still can choose. That is one of the most powerful words in the English language: choice. We can decide what we choose to share. We are responsible for our expressions.
If we truly want a better future for our children, then it starts with the little choices we make each day. Instead of flocking to the damage, rather than showcasing the destruction, we also have the option of focusing on the beautiful and attempting to inspire hope in the future, to rekindle a faith in the basic goodness of existence.