I know. I know. Headlines have, since the very beginning, been written to turn heads. They have largely done so by inducing fear or anxiety There's a reason the saying goes "if it bleeds, it leads". The more dramatic, dire, urgent or disruptive a story is advertised to be, the more likely people are to read it. This practice is a direct response to human nature. Our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to threats -- real or perceived.
It's good business to play into that natural response system. When the brain's imagination runs wild, it kicks up a pretty steady revenue stream in its wake.
What if there's money to be earned by pursuing the brain's opposite response? What if headlines, rather than induce anxiety and scare or anger audiences into clicking, sought to cater to our curiosity and our desire to heal and improve our well-being?
Let me explain. I recently switched up my Twitter feeds to surface more stories on mindfulness, meditation, wellness and health. I did this to counteract the negative emotional and physical effects of traditional daily news headlines. Yes, there can be an emotional and physical toll. But I also realized that there was an opportunity, perhaps, to pivot stories from their anxious tone to a more generative, hopeful and empowering one. That is an editorial choice.
I find I more frequently read and engage with my positive, healthier news feed more than any other. I am more aware of when news and information negatively affects me, and I seek out information that provides a more constructive, solutions-oriented outlook. What if these stories were the norm rather than the exception.
We are in the middle of a transformational era in media -- no news there (ba-dum!). But how we choose to go forward, whether it be the nature of our headlines or the ways we treat those who read them, will largely determine the overall nature of our behaviors and, ultimately, our culture and the health of our society.