Is the world getting worse?
A worldwide survey found that a majority (58%) thinks that the world is getting worse or staying the same. But they are wrong.
Ronald Bailey and Marian Tupy have written a beautiful coffee table book: Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know. It looks at 10 positive trends that are happening around us, but don’t get all the attention they deserve.
If you look at the data of global economic trends, so many things are getting better so quickly. The rate of improvement is accelerating too. Although still incremental, the developments we are seeing right now are unparalleled in human history.
However, it isn’t obvious how to make that message romantic.
Fight the System
Many young people are drawn to groups that have some sort of conspirational element in their message. Think for instance of BLM, Antifa, right wing groups and religious extremist. They point out flaws in ‘the system’ and find a common enemy to fight against. “We fight together to overthrow the oppressors and we can make radical change!”
Similarly, news outlets and influencers on social media like to spout stories that cause discussion. They are happy to offer a platform to activists The more divisive their content, the more interaction and views. It pays to paint a glum picture of the world. Pessimism sells.
So to a degree, it is a problem of storytelling.
Ten positive trends happening right now
Meanwhile, the world is often already moving in the desired direction of activists.
We are already see unprecedented improvements in gender and racial equality, poverty rates, life expectancy. The last seven decades have been the most peaceful decades in written history. Since 1982, the total area covered with forest is expanding. We are transitioning away from fossil fuels and climate change is on the radar of scientists, governments and businesses. We are making progress in cancer research, psychotherapy and knowledge sharing.
But these are not the stories we see on tv or online. Nuanced opinions do not fare well in journalism and politics.
The adventure of incremental, rational progress that can cultivate within the current system; that adventure does not sound sexy. Steady progress is not newsworthy.
Instead, we can cause social media outrage and cancel anyone who ever said something we don’t like. If we collaborate, we can stain our common history and take a piss on the system. The same system that not only has brought them wealth, but also the very freedom of speech and right to protest they are abusing. There is a vast underestimation of what would truly happen if our system fell. Disruptive change leaves casualties, and I’m not sure if activists realize what they would inflict on themselves.
A movement of optimism
Factfulness and the book by Bailey and Tupy already gave us factual stories that inspire hope. But hopefully we can inspire even more optimism.
Let’s start a positive, middle-wing group of activists. A movement that originates in data and the positive trends we see in real life. We should march together and chant: “Things Are Getting Better!”, “We Are Doing Alright!” and “Ignore Them Pessimists!”.
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