Are most people good or bad?

Are most people good or bad?
Are most people good or bad

Do you sometimes despair about humanity because it seems there are far more bad people than good? Are we primarily selfish individuals, thinking only about our own needs? Or is this cynical belief just because we spend so much time online? The truth is more complicated!

The internet is an echo chamber

Anyone who spends most of their days online in chatrooms and forums is more likely to feel that humanity is going to hell in a handbasket. People can be so hateful to one another under the cover of anonymity the internet provides. But those who actually get out there and do real-life stuff are more likely to believe that most people are good and do their best.

One reason for this is the “echo chamber” effect. Search engines learn our likes and dislikes and the things we click on, so the first things we see when we switch on our screens are things that interest us. And so you get individuals finding their “their people” online. So far, so good, but problems can soon arise.

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Posters sitting safely behind the anonymity of their keyboards can target individuals and egg one another on to write more and more unpleasant, bullying and outrageous things. Bad behaviour is condoned, a “mob mentality” can snowball, and it can seem as if the whole planet consists of nothing but evil trolls waiting to pile onto their next target.

Social media and the 24-hour news cycle draw our attention to every disastrous event. We feel as if bad stuff is happening in our own backyards, and this leads to a permanent sense of uneasiness. The self-reinforcement of internet “enclaves” and our continuous access to bad news appears to be a toxic combination that can reinforce a belief that there are more bad people than good.

Negativity bias

Another reason for believing that more people are bad than good is our inbuilt negativity bias. Thanks to a trick of evolution handed down from our prehistoric ancestors, we pay more attention to negative information than positive. In ancient times, being alert to danger was our key to survival and today, we still tend to dwell on the bad stuff rather than the good.

Our negativity bias causes us to dwell on a bad event or comment even when a much greater proportion of positive events has occurred. For example, suppose you’ve spent the day with friends and had a fantastic time, but during the day, someone made a comment that upset you. That’s what you’re likely to remember the day for and categorise it as bad, rather than the generally positive experience.

How can we counterbalance negativity?

We must remember that things are rarely as bad as we think they are. We need to understand that our brains naturally incline towards noticing, processing, and remembering the bad stuff, but this is an overreaction. So we have to find ways to balance our negative bias with positivity. If you feel overwhelmed with negative thoughts, Bach Flower Mix 65 can help to drive away the dark clouds and balance your emotions.

Some other ways to counterbalance our negative bias include:

  • Learn to recognise when your mind starts to activate a pattern of negative thoughts, and every time it happens, do something to break the habit. Find an activity that prevents you from overanalysing and ruminating on things. It could be anything from going for a run or reading to listening to upbeat music or cleaning the house.
  • Another approach is to talk to your negative inner voice as if you were talking to a friend. Ask yourself:” What’s wrong? Are your feelings hurt? Why are you feeling angry or bitter? “. Learn to interrupt yourself in a friendly way whenever you become aware that a negative thought pattern is developing, and treat yourself in the same way you would treat anyone you love.
  • Spend less time reading or listening to the news. No one needs to be bombarded with images of bad news 24/7. Instead, try catching up with the latest events just once a day - or even once a week.
  • Learn to appreciate and celebrate positive things around you while accepting that there will be days when negativity triumphs. Try to be kind to yourself: it’s all part of the learning process.

A final thought

No one is all good or all bad. It’s more complicated than that: good people can do bad things, and bad people have some goodness in them. You have to take responsibility for your feelings and the way you respond to events. Remember that you can control how much you let bad stuff affect you. Learn to accentuate the positive and appreciate the good things around you. The more you can train your mind to override your inbuilt negativity, the happier your life will be.


Sources:

https://www.psycom.net/negativity-bias

https://markmanson.net/newsletters/mindfck-monday-66?vgo_ee=TsaYq4oqXc1qfn78I2c6ZWQOP8ZXmRzMvz3Yw%2BcA7gI%3D

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Marie Pure

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