For many, the last 12 to 18 months have not been great. Depending on your views, a laundry list of recent events may have induced feelings of stress, anxiety, and/or insecurity: Brexit; the U.S. presidential election, its aftermath, and Russia's possible role in it; the war on media, the distrust of facts; and the spate of terrorist attacks around the world.
During times like these, I like to take a look at
Our World in Data (OWID)
, an online publication developed at Oxford University by social historian and economist, Max Roser.
Roser created OWID several years ago to combat the inundation of information
----- and misinformation
----- we receive from the 24-hour news cycle and social media. The site presents empirical research and data, generally through an optimistic lens, to show the world is changing.
A selection of articles recently written by Roser shows that on average, life has greatly improved for most people across the globe over the last 10, 20, 40, and even 100+ years. The really good news is that it seems as though this trend will continue for the foreseeable future!
That all being said, I by no means think everything is perfect. There are still important, systemic issues and problems that need to be fixed yesterday.
Moreover, things can change quickly. Investing money for more than two decades makes one abundantly aware that just because something has been going well doesn't guarantee it always will. I'm always cognizant of the fact that a
could come out of left field and change everything. We need to ensure we don't become complacent, and continue to work on improving our own corner of the world to make it a better place. With the speed of technological advancements and our accessibility to them, this will only keep opening up a world of possibilities.
Our unprecedented access to information is both a blessing and a curse. We can look up most things faster now than we could less than a decade ago and have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, including free online course materials from places like Stanford and MIT.
However, we also live in a world that sensationalizes news (especially bad news) and we haven't evolved (...yet) to filter out the data in which we're currently drowning. Worry and fear were essential emotions that kept our ancestors alive, but unfortunately this inherited hypersensitivity can sometimes cause our emotions to supersede reason.
It's always important to take a couple of steps back every once in a while to see the big picture.