In today’s hyper-connected world of news alerts, emails, tweets and Facebook posts, it can be hard to not notice all the problems in the world in 2020. Whether it’s negative political developments at home, worries of international conflict, unprecedented environmental disasters or, more recently, a global epidemic, it’s hard to be optimistic about the state of the world and where it’s heading. But why is pessimism so prevalent?
For one, it’s easy and immediate. The amount of information we’re exposed to on a daily basis is unprecedented and problems are always easier to spot in the moment, which is why the nightly news is full of negative stories on scandals, injustices and disasters. This is further exacerbated by the way that our brains operate. Not only do we tend to focus more on the negative when trying to make sense of the world, we also remember negative events more vividly than positive ones. This might be helpful when you’re trying to survive in the wilderness and avoid being eaten by predators, but overwhelming if you’re among the rest of us living in modern society.