A few days ago the Orlando shooting happened. America’s worst mass shooting. Then mere moments after that, social media did what it does best. It imploded with opinions, hatred and soul shattering noise. It got me thinking, when did everybody become so hateful and angry?
I remember waking up shortly after the Beirut/Paris attack and switching on the TV for my daily dose of background noise. The reporter stood on a solemn looking Parisian street showing replays of the same devastating footage, over and over again.
It physically hurt my soul and it was far too much to bear before my first coffee. My kid did not need to be subjected to that.
So I quickly made some breakfast, packed the toddler in a pram and walked the long way to the coffee shop. It was a typical Brisbane spring morning. Meaning it was close to 30 degrees before 9 am.
I’m fortunate enough to live by the water. The scenes I walked past were in stark contrast to the scenes on TV. If I was to believe what I was being fed through most media channels, I would be living in a constant state of fear that we could be under attack at any minute by a fanatical group of ‘others’.
Fear that these non-assimilating refugees might attack. Fear that extreme right racist groups might attack. Fear that I could get skin cancer if I stay in the sun too long. Fear that if I eat too much kale I could turn green…
But there I was, walking in the sunshine, smiling at strangers. My old neighbour down the road had a yarn to me about the state of his lawn. I met a young German couple in a caravan at the park by the water, who regaled me with tales of their road trip adventures.
I caught up with a bunch of mates at the coffee shop telling me about their kids and partners. I took my daughter to the park to watch the council rangers feed the pelicans as they do every morning. Then we just hung out and breathed in the ocean air.
On my walk home my heart wasn’t so heavy. My soul healed a bit. It was reassuring to know that all is not lost, there is good in this world, and the world is mostly filled with beautiful people with beautiful souls.
Noni Hazelhurst made an exceptional acceptance speech at the Logies about the age of information relishing in bad news and fear mongering.
I’d love a channel that features nothing but stories that inspire us and reassure us and our children that there are good things happening and good people in the world,” she said.
“I know it’s a lot to ask for. But at the very least, a show that tries to redress this overwhelming imbalance that counters bad news with good that encourages optimism not pessimism that restores our empathy and love for our fellow human beings and the earth that redefines reality that heals our hearts.
We may not be able to get this channel up and running anytime soon but this change starts with each and every one of us. It starts by taking responsibility for our actions. The comments, articles and opinions we share on social media matter.
It’s part of a wider conversation. Instead of offering an uneducated opinion on matters you don’t understand, share the video of the overwhelming response of people who lined up to give blood for the victims of the Orlando shootings. Try to inspire others by sharing heart-warming exchanges of kindness in humanity. Even the simplest things.
I may be naïve but I don’t believe that we have become hateful and angry. I think many media channels whip people into a frenzy to lead us to believe that this is what we have become.
I implore you, instead of looking for someone to hate or someone to blame when such atrocities occur, look for something to love in the communities you live in. Look for a way to help those less fortunate.
Look up from your screen and change your channel.