Ideas, much like the peplum look, go in and out of style. An idea gains traction when, we the consumers of news, buy into a theory or issue. However, as time goes by, our commitment fades as the shock and outrage wears off. That is until it becomes trendy again.
Many things can trigger the resurgence of an idea; some recent examples are
The Charleston shooting. The event has spiraled into a social and political campaign that is calling for a review of existing gun laws.
A MERS outbreak in South Korea. It has sparked a surge of interest in related research, treatment and prevention.
The execution of the Bali 9 leaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Their deaths reignited the Australian government’s quest for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
Caitlyn Jenner’s public gender transition inspired a global pledge of acceptance for transgender men and women.
As well as, the success of the Irish referendum for marriage equality. This has inspired other countries to propose similar bills in their parliaments.
That said, these events are recent. They are hot off the press, new to our TV screens and trending on Facebook. They have our attention now, no question. So how is it that we so easily forget about them?
Firstly, we live in an era of exponential knowledge. We can know everything about a topic from its Wikipedia page. This unlimited access has led to media saturation; meaning that current stories will be usurped by the next ‘Breaking News’ bulletin. Long story short, there’s always going to be a newer, more troubling problem on the horizon.
Secondly, are our surprisingly short attention spans. Much like a new relationship, our passion for an idea will slowly fade, as the honeymoon phase comes to an end. A newer, shinier story will emerge and that catches our attention. And slowly, but surely the old idea will fade into the oblivion. That is until a similar issue emerges, reigniting our passion for the cause.
Last but not least, being continuously bogged down in the facts can be depressing as hell. After reading about the Holocene extinction, I was just about ready to jump off a cliff. Sometimes, an issue can be so overwhelming, that we need to take a break from it. Some ideas need to be consumed incrementally, in bite-sized pieces, because in some cases it’s easier not to know.
But sadly, we can’t afford to forget and neglect some of these ideas any longer. Sure, the news cycle will have a whole new set of problems for us tomorrow, but it’s time to focus on what we have right now. Rather than consuming ideas like fast fashion, choose garments that are going to last and that you can stay passionate about for a long time. When it comes to solving problems and discovering new ideas, we can’t spread ourselves too thin. They require nurturing and a long-term commitment. So, stop being so easily distracted. Remember what you believe in and fight for the ideas that you feel can change the world.