A grim outlook doesn’t solve anything
Another typical day at work and my coworker and I were having a midday chat. The topics of discussion were children and animals. To give a bit of a background, I work in higher education. That is, until I reach my dream of doing this, you know, blogging, full time.
Anyways, my coworker is 29-years-old. She has four dogs, one of which she recently adopted. Naturally, as we were talking, her dogs came up in conversation. Somehow, children came up in the dialogue. She said, “I am almost 30-years-old. I have my dogs, and I don’t have kids. This world is awful. I wouldn’t want to bring a child into it.” To which I asked, why not? She said, “because this world is a terrible place.”
Immediately, the conversation reminded me of a book preview I had recently read. The book is called factfulness. As you can tell from the title, it is about facts. It’s fascinating, even Bill Gates thinks so. Moreover, it is about our society and its outlook on the world. It’s about how most people have an “overdramatic world view.” How we don’t look at the world for what it truly is, just the portrayal of it through various outlets such as the media.
Although the book acknowledges the media plays a role, the author, Hans Rosling, goes on to discuss in depth how this is more or less a biological attribute in humans. How we tend to overreact with most subjects or even worse, when presented with facts, we still choose to stick with the dramatic view of our world.
At this point in the conversation, I was taken back. Simply by the fact that here I was working in higher education out of all places and my colleague, who is very bright, knowledgeable, has a bachelor’s degree and is currently pursuing her master’s, had such a grim outlook on our world. So much so, she wasn’t willing to bring a child into it. That is, of course, a personal choice, but to dismiss having children due to the troubles of our world, seemed a bit extreme to me. Especially considering,
Our world isn’t as far off as most of the people living in it think it is.
Disputing the facts
In the book Factfulness, Rosling goes on to talk about how she came up with a series of questions. Questions that are fact-based and aren’t disputable. She asks this same set of questions to people all over the world. From different countries, backgrounds, and professions. Including doctors, business leaders, journalists, and even political decision-makers.
Recently, I gave my parents this same quiz. Much like anyone who takes this quiz, they didn’t fare too well. They’d gotten 4 out of 13 questions correct. That’s because of questions about world poverty and vaccinations, participants were only 7% correct for the former and 20% accurate for the latter.
There is a level of distortion within our view of the world and what is going on in it. With the current landscape of media and our tendencies as humans of being drawn to drama, it’s no surprise that this is the case.
“It’s when we truly realize what is going on in our world that we can change it.”
Let’s go back to the conversation with my coworker. I asked her to look at this quiz and what her thoughts were. She said she would have gotten most of the questions wrong. I tried to explain to her beforehand that we often look at the world through a distorted lens. She responded, stating she didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere alone and mentioned that mental health is still not taken very seriously in our society.
Much to her chagrin, I agreed. Our world is far from perfect, and we have so, so far to go. But her grim outlook isn’t problem-solving and doesn’t change absolutely anything. What I tried to convey was that our society isn’t as bad as it seems. In fact, world poverty has nearly halved. While around 80% of all 1-year-old’s are vaccinated, all of which have happened in our lifetime.
However, people tend to think of negative responses when prompted by these questions. Instead of thinking more positively about our world, people think things have stayed the same or even worsened. In many cases, it’s the exact opposite of what is actually happening.
Ultimately, by having a negative outlook on life, nothing changes. For some people, such as my coworker, this outlook is drastic enough for her not to want to have children. If we wish to see change, we must change, and our outlook on life is no different. For if we look at the world in a more positive light and ultimately, for what it truly is, then and only then, we can begin to tackle current issues and make a change in this lifetime.