Why we all need more good news in our lives
This is a guest post by Grant Brown of HappyEcoNews.com. One man's mission to bring more positive news to the world.
In the technology-driven world we now live in, we have become more connected than ever. We have information and knowledge at our fingertips yet somehow, we have also become the most isolated. When compared to other times in history, we have the most wealth, longest lifespan, best nutrition and least war.
So why is it that when you talk to people, regardless of age, gender, race or income, so many seem unhappy? I would argue that it is too much bad news.
7 minutes to read
Denial and doomscrolling
There is an overwhelming sense of dread that comes from too much bad news. If the world’s problems are so big that they seem insurmountable, many people will find it is easiest to simply deny the problems exist. Some might say these deniers are the lucky ones; after all, they can continue their lives only changing their behaviour when laws or regulations force them to.
But for the rest of us, the ones who believe the scientists, the news is overwhelming in a different way. Instead of denying the problem, we suffer in silence. A depressing news article delivered by a social media feed is reinforced tenfold by the algorithm, each subsequent story further worrying the individual.
This is known as Doomscrolling; the act of consuming an endless procession of negative online news, to the detriment of one’s mental wellness. It is a new word; it didn’t even exist before 2018 and yet is very well-used in 2020.
We are in the age of hyperinflated negative news stories, all of it intended to keep your eyes locked on your screen as long as possible. Negative stories work best, so that is what you get.
My own experience
In 2017, I was travelling the world with my family. About halfway through the trip, we found ourselves in the town of Canggu, Indonesia on the island of Bali. It was stunning in its beauty and we were all looking forward to 4 weeks of beaches and exploration. We had arrived at night and the next morning we walked to the beach, expecting the soft sand and beautiful shore break in all the tourism photos.
Instead, we saw plastic – lots of it. Of course, I had heard about ocean plastic, seen videos on it, even helped fund the first prototype of The Ocean Cleanup project. But where I am from, near Vancouver, Canada, we have robust waste processing. The beaches at home are mostly clean and plastic-free.
It was devastating to see the scale of the problem in person on that beach on Bali. I simply wasn’t ready for it, but who is? It was the rainy season and a years’ worth of garbage stored up in ravines around the island had been washed into the ocean. The water and shoreline were covered in plastic, not a single metre of it didn’t have some form of pollution. Earlier in the trip, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I had witnessed what I thought was a garbage tip (actually a creek and ravine full of waste) get flushed out with the rains into the Mekong River. The Mekong flows through 6 countries, then to the South China Sea. I could hardly believe the scale. How many more garbage tips worth of plastic were introduced to its water along the 4,300km length? It was all brought home to me that day on the beach in Bali. Here was the plastic that I had seen in the river. A different ocean, a different country, but the same immeasurable problem. I couldn’t stop thinking about this, and all the other dire environmental news I was seeing every day.
I would doomscroll, sometimes for hours, falling deeper and deeper into the negativity.
But I knew there was hope
The plastic in the ocean was real enough, but something about the news feeds seemed false. I knew from my day job at the time that there were a lot of good people all over the world inventing things that reduced the use of fossil fuels, captured carbon, collected ocean plastic or changed the laws that allowed it to happen in the first place. I also knew from being raised in an environmentalist family that there were grassroots organizations tirelessly working in their communities to make them better for the people, plants and animals that live there. Where were their stories? Why was nobody promoting the positive news about the environment?
Along came Happy Eco News
I started gathering these good news stories and sharing them with friends and anyone else who might have been feeling environmental fatigue. Slowly as I found the stories, my depression began to lift and be replaced by hope, even optimism. The people who enjoyed my messages wrote to tell me how they felt the same way. In January of 2018 I started Happy Eco News and made it official.
Now we have thousands of people from around the world who read the website and newsletter each month. I still get the letters every week, and often they are from faraway places. I have never met most of them in real life, but I count these people as my friends. I am proud to be able to help them find their own hope and optimism.
People want to help
Sometimes the people who write the letters ask me questions like what they can do? How can they change their lives to be greener and have less impact on the planet? I almost always tell them to take action in some way. I tell them to make small positive changes in their day to day lives, and then build upon these micro-wins, ultimately creating new habits of positive action. When enough people do the right thing, the momentum in the world will change from going down a path of destruction to one of regeneration.
That is why, when I was introduced to Ailuna, I was very impressed. Here was a company doing exactly what people are asking for. A smartphone app that helps people to live a cleaner, greener life by daily reinforcement of how to do things right. When Ailuna asked me to help with their project, I did not hesitate. That is why I am very pleased to join Ailuna to provide positive news stories and help people take action to make the small positive daily changes that will become habit.
We’re in this together
I truly believe that humanity will do the right thing and save ourselves from ourselves. I think the pendulum has finished its arc toward destruction and is now beginning to move toward regeneration. But we all need to help. We all need to take the actions in our daily lives that move us closer to that place. For inspiration to take action, we have the good news from Happy Eco News. For how to make the changes, we have Ailuna.
Together, we can make our world a better place.
Find out more about Ailuna’s partnership with Happy Eco News here, and click below to see some of the positive stories we’ve been enjoying.