I just finished a pretty cool book called “Factfulness“. It essentially presents a summary of the current state of the world from the big picture perspective with broad categories of income, education, and health. It deep dives into how misunderstood the world is by the masses, how biased is our outlook of the world, and the main reasons why we are so wrong
However, the reality is that the world is an incredibly better place than it was even as recently as 40 years ago.
The book begins with a 13 question quiz and the results he has collected over the years are downright abysmal. The majority get only three out of 13 right! (I got 10 out of 13 but I am an optimist and basically, if you picked the optimistic answer, you were right most of the time). It did not matter how well educated the test takers were, what country they came from, or what profession. Not a single group of people that were polled beat out random guessing. 15% of test takers scored zero!
Bashing media was not one of the goals of the books, but it came up rather frequently when the author dived into the reasons why the population continues to be so disconnected from the reality. Our worldview is being updated by us reading the news. And news, especially in today’s world, are not interested in keeping us educated. The goal is to shock, entangle, and keep on coming back for more articles that shock, entice fear, and further cloud our thinking.
The news is not the same as it used to be. The amount of articles is ever growing and is insanely high today. The same story is distracted seemingly millions of times from various angles. So much fluff and irrelevant commentary. Media has had years of training on how to capture our attention with headlines and article structure. Keep the stories shocking, latch on to people’s fears, capitalize on uncertainty and our biological wiring.
I can’t blame the writers. Their goal is to make money. How do you make money? By building audience and traffic and nothing generates traffic more than attention-grabbing headlines and shocking articles. The goal is not to educate or report the truth without embellishments or conjecture. I honestly believe we are far better off leaving the major media outlets. The negatives far out
Last year many of us said we will leave social networks such as Facebook (although not sure how many actually did). I went through with the departure and could not love it more. Couple months back I have started to cut out my consumption of news in general and it’s been refreshing. This book is making me think that I should do more and go deeper with the clearance.
The first thing I did after finishing the book is clear out my featured section for google assistance app on the phone. Previously it suggested news articles, and honestly, I visited that page at least 5-6 times a day. No more. Gone. That was the only news outlet that I let myself visit, and now it’s empty. I am sure I will need to replace it with something, but for now, I want to see how far I can go without any news dropped on my lap. I have a feeling that what I will replace will be specific blogs or authors and that’s about it. Let’s see how this experiment will go.