If we are living during the best time of history in regards to overall quality of life and such amazing successes, why do 90% of us see the world in such a negative light?

In a survey conducted around the world in 2021, only 10% of people responded that they believed the world was getting “better.” Well, what do you expect? We are in the midst of a global pandemic with so much going wrong in the world. We are surrounded with so much negative news.

Would you be surprised, however, if I said the exact opposite is true? Statistically, we see that the world has been getting better for a number of decades and doing so in dramatic ways. If you look at the numbers, the statistics are positive in almost every category. For example:

  • Extreme poverty has declined from 75% in 1950 to less than 10% today.

  • Child mortality has dropped to an all-time low, falling by more than half since 1990.

  • Literacy has risen from 35% in 1950 to 86% in 2020.

  • We see improvement and positive trends over the last 40-50 years in education, access to food, clean water, income, child labor, homicide rates, wars, access to electricity, malaria, income inequality, decline in cancer death rates, etc. 

If we are living during the best time of history in regards to overall quality of life and such amazing successes, why do 90% of us see the world in such a negative light?

There are several causes for this negative outlook; however, a major factor is that during this incredibly positive time in the world, we have also seen a dramatic rise in media consumption. In study after study, the equation is straight forward: the more media we consume, the more fearful and pessimistic we become. Why does this happen? Because in order to increase ad revenue, media companies grab our attention with fear, doom, and gloom. The media makes more money through fear than from focusing on what is going right. It’s how media companies make money, and they will not change this model anytime soon.

We have been talking this quarter about how to help our kids be more optimistic. We can build optimism by intentionally helping our kids make good choices about the media that constantly surrounds us. It is pretty simple math – the less media we consume, the less pessimistic we become. 

Teaching our kids to be more discerning and limit their media consumption is just the beginning. We can also be much more intentional with the media we do consume. There is plenty of uplifting and positive media available, but we have to be intentional to find it. Let’s make an effort to have more positivity flow through our feeds than the prevalent doom and gloom.

Ironically, both the problem and the solution can be found in our media consumption. Let’s be intentional about choosing positive media–if we do, we might become part of the 10% who see the world in a better light.


Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school.
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