Communication and Inspiration

In our interconnected world, modern means of communication offer unprecedented opportunities for promoting understanding and empathy between people and societies across the globe.

However, the instant availability of scenes of conflict, suffering and destruction from almost every corner of the planet carries a real danger. An unmitigated diet of negativity is dispiriting. It can cause an internal paralysis, in which people feel disempowered in the present and hopeless about the future. Many have noticed this effect and take steps to protect themselves against it, becoming more discriminating about what they watch or read. Some however ‘lose’ themselves, like drug addicts, in the constant flow of stimulation on offer through modern media. It is therefore right that communicators should make special efforts to seek out positive stories and images.

It’s not a case of moving away from reality, but rather, of choosing to see what can also give hope and inspiration. For example, the London riots of 2011 brought violent images to our television screens, but the following days also saw widespread coverage of neighbourhood expressions of communal solidarity and support.

In contrast, images of devastation from the Asian tsunami in December 2004, which killed more than 40,000 people in Sri Lanka alone, were not counterbalanced by on-going coverage of the outpouring of international support for the rebuilding effort that followed.

There is a goodness in people that often reveals itself in the wake of disaster and it is of value to us all that this should be highlighted, even if a special effort has to be made to find it after the global news spotlight has moved on. In a world where so much seems dark, examples of humanity’s capacity to restore the good stand out like beacons of hope.

Media professionals do a great job, but society’s need for hope, in the face of so much that is negative, is an issue surely worthy of more attention. Conversations such as those organised by Images and Voices of Hope can generate a wave of awareness in this direction. They help raise awareness of how individuals working within the media can strengthen their personal well-being, such as improving their capacity for withstanding negativity and for maintaining resilience in troubled times.