Why Do We Think of Reality as Harsh?

One of the reasons we tend to escape to television, film and books is to escape reality. We all need escapism in our lives. So the saying goes.

We live in a harsh, cruel world and the reality of it can almost certainly overwhelm us says another saying.

But is this really a great perspective to have?
One of the main reasons why I hate watching the news is that it causes so much stress to see all the things that are happening in the world. It’s extremely stressful. Someone tells me ” Well that’s the real world, it’s harsh and cruel.” People tell me that if you don’t watch the news, somehow you are sheltered from reality.

Is it though? Where are the uplifting stories on courage, and building community, and people empowering others? Where are the stories of rich and poor, uniting for one cause?
They are few and far in between. Does that mean that it doesn’t exist? Or are we only seeing a smile microcoosm of the world based on an agenda that news outlets want us to see?

Those few stories that filter into the world which are positive have enduring effects on people’s lives. What we see as reality is not necessarily the whole perspective.

News outlets are forced to be controversial in order to get views. Nowadays , they are even getting lazy when it comes to checking on the facts. They get their information from the blogosophere and what is ” hot” and a lot of this merely fabricated to create controversy. It has an effect of the rat eating it’s own tail . THere is no end or beginning and it is perpetually set into a spiral of people trying to outdo themselves to find the next best story.

Furthermore, news outlets were created – if my media professors were right- to have a heightened sense of stress in our lives. They showed us a clip of some very stressful news stories which were only alieviated by the commercials which had vague associations to solve the problems presented in the news story. By unconsciously associating the products and commercials with this we are sending a message that the only solution is to protect ourselves, to consume and numb the pain of the otherwise frightening and alienating world.

Gone are the days when people would arise together in citzenship. In the days before radio and television, neighborhoods would come together and help each other out. Nowadays, people are becoming increasingly more isolated and stay within their own family unit. While in the past, if there was burglar, neighborhoods would come together to find ways to protect, educate and empower the community. In present day, our solution is to buy a burglar alarm and set up house insurance. We are relying on products to solve the problems facing society.

If we watched the news we would think that most people are murderers, thieves and out to harm us. I have found that the reality tends to be true. The countless times that strangers have helped me in different countries, offered me money food , lodging and a ride without expecting anything in return countlessly makes me realize people’s goodness.

Yes the world is messed up right now. But it is not black and white, and people cannot fit into convenient categories of otherness. While the news might persist in giving us a notion that the world is a dark and twisted place, we should also consider the millions of instances of light that speckles through this pale blue dot.

There is also the fact that a lot of times, truth is distorted in the news and fits merely the perspective of the country and idealogical affiliation the outlet has. Many times as a child I would see realities of El Salvador which were not necessarily the truth. Most news outlets can record third world countries as backward, poor and inferior to the first world countries. But they will not show you the small pockets of beauty hidden in every corner.

Are all news outlets cut from the same cloth? Do some of them convey nuggets of truth? Should we shelter ourselves from them and thus deprive ourselves from some snippets of what the world is going through at this time? Not really, but we shouldn’t take the news at face value either.

Ocean Tenerife

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