Where is your attention? 


Our brains are wired to pay attention to danger and the things that frighten us.  This is why good news media doesn’t work. People want to hear the bad news and they can’t help but look at car accidents, natural disasters and other tragedies.  The problem with this is that we have entered an age of clicks, likes and subscribers. Traditional media is trying to keep up with social media so almost everything seems to be polarised and sensationalised.  Serious issues that require our attention and debate are being drowned out by the radical claims and fear mongering.  There doesn’t seem to be much objectivity and constructive criticism but instead, people are randomly being labelled racists, fascists, and white supremacists, or communists, leftist radicals, and terrorists.

Issues are portrayed as black and white and there is a growing mentality of you are either with us or against us. There seems to be a need to go to extremes immediately calling people horrible names and labelling them as evil. To call someone a Nazi or compare them to Hitler massively underplays the suffering experienced by Jews and political opponents of this regime in the 1930’s and 40’s. Accusing those who do not agree with your point of view of using hate speech is an insult to African Americans, indigenous people and other minorities who have historically suffered discrimination and degradation. But most people I talk to do not have these extreme views. In fact, I think these are tactics used by a small minority and yet the loudest and most extreme voices are being heard which seems to be drowning out the voice of reason.

The truth is we are living in the best times of recorded history.  There are still serious problems to overcome but it is important to maintain perspective.  We can certainly do much better but people are living longer, there is less war, less violence and less poverty when compared to life just one hundred years ago. With this in mind, think about where your attention is being drawn toward. I hear and read so much complaining about the tweets and comments of a certain president and as much as people say it’s all lies or it is completely ridiculous, people continue to listen and focus their attention on sound bites rather than real issues.

How is this affecting your own life?  Do you spend a lot of time worrying about things you cannot control or are you doing something about the things you can?  Are you lamenting the things you don’t have or being grateful for the things you do have? Are you able to see what is good in the world and in your life or are you overwhelmed by all the negativity you are inundated with?  You have the power to redirect your attention and although I am not suggesting anyone should ignore the world’s problems, I do think we need some balance. Give your attention or expose yourself to more love than fear, more hope than dispart and more tolerance than hate.  This will certainly allow more happiness in your life and, if you are so inclined, help you see more clearly you can contribute to positive change in the world.