The news can tend to be a downer, but lately- with wars, floods in Kerala and the latest announcement of Big Boss season 12, its been especially depressing. Worry not, because Google Assistant is trying to fix that.
Well, Google is not planning to censor all the bad news, but will surely make it easier for you to find curated good news.
The world’s principal supplier of news on the internet is taking a small step to make a change. Google Assistant is testing a new feature that will only feed you positive stories.
How will you go about it?
The feature put in place is called ‘Tell Me Something Good’. Users can now just ask the assistant ‘tell me something good’ and receive your daily dose of positive stories about people solving real problems.
The stories come from a wide range of media outlets which will be curated and summarised by Solutions Journalism Network, a non-profit organisation.
This serves the purpose of inspiring and encouraging stories that focus on improvements people are making towards the society rather than point out all the flaws it has.
“This is good news like how Georgia State University coupled empathy with data to double its graduation rate and eliminate achievement gaps between white and black students,” and “how backyard beekeepers in East Detroit are bringing back the dwindling bee population while boosting the local economy“ Google said in its blog post.
Presumably, you won’t come across much political or international news. What a relief!
Surveys: News impacts you emotionally
The more news you consume, the bigger toll it may take.
One of the chief complaints from the public is that news is always negative and how they wish that news would provide them with more positive information.
Surveys show that news cause stress, anxieties, fatigue or sleep loss as a result. Yet people tend to constantly monitor their social media feeds for the latest headlines and happenings around the world.
Google acknowledges that this isn’t a ‘magic solution’ which can finish this, but an important one at the same time, aiming to energise the audience and helping to combat negative news fatigue.
Google’s new feature aims to change human nature
Many newspapers, magazines and media houses have been for decades, trying to satisfy the customer’s demands for ‘good news’ by adding more entertainment, culture, sports and local touch.
The already tried and tested strategy has always received mix results. A report published by the BBC in 2014 pointed out certain facts.
“The researchers present their experiment as solid evidence of a so-called “negativity bias”, psychologists’ term for our collective hunger to hear, and remember bad news.”
“It isn’t just schadenfreude, the theory goes, but that we’ve evolved to react quickly to potential threats. Bad news could be a signal that we need to change what we’re doing to avoid danger.”
As you’d expect from this theory, there’s some evidence that people respond quicker to negative words. In lab experiments, flash the word “cancer”, “bomb” or “war” up at someone and they can hit a button in response quicker than if that word is “baby”, “smile” or “fun.”
The ‘Tell Me Something Good’ feature has been available on Google Assistant devices in the US since yesterday. The balance has tipped too far on the ‘bad news’ side and this is an experiment worth trying, which can surely brighten your day. After all, it is Google.
Image Credits: Google Images