we yearn for reasons to be optimistic
"we yearn for reasons to be optimistic"
Rachel Goslins shared the insights from the Futures Exhibition at The Smithsonian:
"We all want to be hopeful about the future. But sometimes it seems the world is conspiring against us. Bad news and worrying trends stream across our screens and news feeds. Public discourse on the future is often dominated by dystopian narratives and commercial agendas. No wonder that, in global surveys, people report being angrier, sadder and more fearful than ever before. Still, we yearn for reasons to be optimistic. FUTURES, the Smithsonian’s first major building-wide exploration of what lies ahead, sought to address this gap. For eight months between November and July 2022, more than 650,000 people immersed themselves in the exhibition..."
"Hope drives action. We know that awareness of a problem in and of itself doesn’t often lead to change. When faced with huge challenges like climate change and social division, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. And yet today common wisdom seems to be that that you have to scare people into taking action on a particular issue or problem. You need to focus on what could go wrong, the disastrous implications and dire consequences that might happen if we are not sufficiently vigilant or motivated. FUTURES’ optimistic approach was an audacious experiment in taking the opposite approach. What would happen if we focused instead on what could go right?"
"We have a “hopefulness gap”—but shifting this could be a key to shaping the future we most want. We have more faith in innovation and technology than we do in human cooperation. Early research for the exhibition showed that the types of futures people most wanted to see were peaceful and equitable. Unfortunately, they also thought these were the least likely to ever happen. This difference created a sense of despair and hopelessness. What we found during FUTURES was consistent with this—people thought futures that were creative and exciting were much more likely to occur, largely because they had faith that technology, leaps of innovation, or transformative discoveries by individual geniuses would create these futures. Visitors were much less optimistic about outcomes like peacefulness and empathy, ones that relied on people to band together to solve problems communally. Much of FUTURES focused on the former, stories of other people inventing technological solutions to our problems. This is a common trend in stories about the future."