Things We Could Do Better in 2017

As a compliment to my “Best of 2016” post, I thought about doing a “Worst of 2016” post. But then I decided that my web server probably doesn’t have enough storage space for a post that enormous.

Also, “Worst of” anything is kind of a downer, and who wants that going into the promise of a new year? Instead, I just thought I could pick a few things that didn’t go great in 2016 that maybe we could improve on in 2017. And when I say “we,” I mean, “the world.”

Let’s try to do better at…

Ignoring social media idiots – There’s nothing inherently bad about social media. Facebook is great at helping me to stay in touch with friends. Twitter has given me updates on breaking news (and weather) well before I could get it anywhere else. But every social media post is not equally valuable. A lot of them are Internet-era equivalents of the crazy guy screaming at random people on a street corner or mumbling on the subway about the CIA listening devices in his pants.

Those people are always going to be out there, and they’re going to scream whether you pay attention to them or not, so do yourself a favor and don’t pay attention to them. Those “Mute” and “Unfollow” buttons are your friends.

Exercising some educated skepticism – Another side effect of the Internet-era is the constant bombardment of information that we all receive all day, every day. In such an environment, sensationalism is going to be the rule rather than the exception. You’re never going to break through the noise with a headline like, “Guy Touches Girl’s Behind at College Party.” So instead you say, “Sexual Assault Epidemic at Universities!”

As wise information consumers, we should understand that news providers get paid for clicks and page views. Tune your b.s. meters accordingly.

Not telling everybody how to live their lives – Giving advice is fine. Wishing people behaved differently than they do is normal. But it is not normal or beneficial to believe, because someone interprets facts and makes decisions differently than you would, that he is a core of pure evil wrapped in hate with an outer layer of polyester and stupidity. It’s entirely possible that the other person has entirely different priorities than you and is making reasonable choices based on those priorities.

To my progressive friends, you can read this as, “Understand religion better.”

Soaking in the good things – Because of the aforementioned bombardment of information, we’re in a constant state of moving on to the next thing. But sometimes, against all odds, good things happen. There’s been such a steady stream of panic and outrage in my news feed that I had to be reminded the other day that the Cubs won the World Series this year. That’s nice! And it shouldn’t get buried under a bunch of garbage news.

When you see good things happen (and they will; have faith), make a point of lingering on them a little longer. Don’t let the good thing get immediately pushed out of your mind by the next bad thing.

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