This is an excerpt of our conversation with Graham Hughes where we both get kind of ranty and I wanted to give it its own space now at a time when our thoughts about the world have been challenged. We recorded this conversation pre-Trump and pre-Brexit- so neither of us had the knowledge to know the outcomes of those elections but as you can here we do have the foresight to feel that something was happening. In this mini-episode, we discuss the elements that have made the world seem more dangerous than ever and the hysteria people have against traveling due to these skewed perceptions.
As someone who was prepared to go out and travel to every country, Graham knew that it wasn’t always going to be drinks on the beach and clubbing, but that he would be experiencing some severe social and economic disparities right at his feet and seeing that throughout the world. But there were things that not even he was prepared to expect, which is where we leave off.
I’m curious as to why people are believing the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been” when greater and greater majority of humanity lives in peace and dies of old age?
Statistically, we are at the safest point in human history on a global scale. Things are still not perfect; however, rates of homicide, dying of diseases, genocide, and war are at an all-time low with an ever-growing global population. The democratization of more nations is increasing and even if they aren’t perfect democracies it is an ideology that is headed in the right direction. Although our global actions are showing us that our bad natures are on the decrease, the news portrays looming risks and possibilities are always right around the corner. And to summarise the political scientist John Mueller mentions in a Slate article, in recent years Americans are more likely to die of deer collisions than terrorist attacks.
We may be dying less of physical ailments by diseases and our fellow humankind- but the psychological torture is like no other. The news magnifies the random acts of terror and violence that happen throughout the world and years ago we would focus more on local news vs. global news so our reach is greater and more global and we are more connected than ever so we can know about every terrible thing that is happening every moment of the day.
We are at a time where physical violence is low but psychological violence, agitation, and hysteria is high. Where we are tricked into believing that our world is more dangerous than it is and it is easier to manipulate people if they are hysterical, agitated or in a state of fear than calm and rational. It taps into our underlying fears of mortality by suggesting “they are coming for you”
When we are hysterical we are less likely to listen to reason and thought our amygdalas or emotional centers in our brains are firing off and block our pre-frontal cortex from saying chill out let’s THINK about this for a section. Our psychology is working against us or working for those who are able to profit off of these contradictions of consciousness.
Violence makes headlines; peace does not.
We have a natural negativity bias, which leads us to pay attention to things that are bad vs. good. And we are more likely to internalize it and affect our mood and perception of the outside world as a whole. We have a tendency to generalize and extrapolate to all similar situations and try to fit events into patterns that we have created and feel comfortable with but might not actually be there.
So, we are dealing with a technology that we are not emotionally maturity to handle coupled with our biological disposition to focus on the negative- we are torturing ourselves and people are making money off of it.
How can we hack our psychology to avoid these downwards spiral thoughts of disaster and immediate doom?
Go outside and talk to your neighbor or a stranger. Notice that when you talk to people who are ostensibly different from you or you allocate to a different tribe that they might be more similar to you than you anticipated.