Despite what is portrayed, most of us are still inherently good.
Once upon a time I was somewhat addicted to news. I read every square inch of newspaper I could find, ate breakfast with the morning news in the background, and was subscribed to various RSS feeds that gave me instant access to breaking news.
Several years ago something changed, right around the time Facebook admitted to conducting experiments on users to influence their emotions (see article here) (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds). Of course since then ‘fake news’ has become a thing, so much so that it is difficult to ever be sure what is true, what is fiction, and what is downright manipulation. Could one ever be so sure previously? Possibly not. The big difference between recent times and days gone by is what I call the ‘algorithm effect’ – we only see what the algorithms tell us we should see.
And so not long ago, the decision was made. Apart from the all-important sporting news which will always be an essential part of my day, I decided to go on a self-enforced news diet.
All was going well until this last few days. Currently, I am in Bali as part of a remote working experiment that we at Optimum simply call The Future Of Work (working virtually). I already knew that Mt Agung had become more active in the last few days, and that precautions were being put in place including evacuating those closest to the Volcano. I even felt the tremors although they are not actually that unusual. However everyone who wasn’t in Bali seemed to know more about what was going on than I did, and I am only 40km away from it! I was receiving frantic messages of ‘are you ok’ and ‘get out whilst you can’. It was enough to draw me out of my news diet and check it out for myself. Here is what I discovered…
- Several ‘respectable’ news outlets using images of erupting volcanos and ash clouds that were actually from previous eruptions not actually in Bali!
- Images of villagers ‘frantically’ leaving their homes and others in tears, despite the fact that the majority are taking it all in their stride and in a very different state of mind to the news reports I saw.
- A significant amount of information about ‘end of the world’ worst-case scenarios that in all likelihood will never eventuate.
Ahhhh….so that is why others are worried! I had better get back on the no-news diet.
The media is shaping our view of humanity too
I should point out that I am not totally against the media, and have several good friends who are both journalists and run very good radio programs. However apart from the focus on natural disasters, there also seems to be a lot of focused attention on relatively few people – politicians, entertainers and leaders – whom are casting a very dim view of humanity in general. It is becoming more and more difficult not to judge ‘humanity’ as a race of ego-maniacs who are all about power and money.
Public figures are always in the news. They are everywhere! Are these people representative of humanity? Is everyone fixated with money, power and chest-beating? Have we as a race completely lost our moral compass? These aren’t such silly questions to ask given our constant exposure.
People are inherently good.
I recently read a great article by George Monbiot of The Guardian in 2015 titled We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s proof. (read the article here (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/14/selfish-proof-ego-humans-inherently-good).
In it he cites several recent studies that as a human being I found remarkably refreshing amongst the constant barrage of negativity. It renewed my confidence in humanity simply because it points out a few things that as a species, we still have a remarkable capability to be concerned for others, have a sense of empathy, and tend to have an in-built moral compass that is usually in working order.
Sure there are both saints and sinners at either end of the humanity spectrum, but it seems most of us squeeze into the middle part of the bell curve that can best be described as ‘inherently good’. Most of us don’t end up in the news, because we are different to those who often are. Phew!
Good people make great organisations.
To most people, this is already obvious. Good people make great organisations, and great organisations attract and retain good people. Whilst the world still experiences its fair share of craziness, let’s not forget that the vast majority of people are still inherently good, and that many of these good people still have the potential to positively influence both workplace culture and organizational results.
When good people and great organisations find each other, that’s when the magic happens.
“We believe in the inherent goodness of people, and that good people make great organisations”. Visitors to our Brisbane Head Office will have seen this written on the wall for several years now. It is built into our DNA.
Jason Buchanan – General Manager