Being perpetually tuned into the news is not fun. Important, perhaps, but usually not particularly good for your outlook on humanity. Google, one of the world’s principal supplier of news, is taking a small step to make things better.
Google Assistant is testing a new feature that will only feed you positive stories. Just ask the Assistant “tell me something good” and you’ll be greeted with a curated sumary of positive stories that might just brighten your day.
Google says it highlights stories “about people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.” Some examples of what you might find, according to the company:
- “How Georgia State University coupled empathy with data to double its graduation rate and eliminate achievement gaps between white and black students.”
- “How backyard beekeepers in East Detroit are bringing back the dwindling bee population while boosting the local economy.”
- “How Iceland curbed teen drinking with nightly curfews and coupons for kids to enroll in extracurricular activities.”
Presumably, you won’t come across much in the way of US politics or international relations.
The stories are curated and summarized by the Solutions Journalism network, a nonprofit “dedicated to spreading the practice of solutions journalism, which highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible.” For its part, Google says it’s looking into how to incorporate more solutions journalism throughout its news offerings.
Speaking personally for a moment, I just returned from a month-long vacation in which I ignored the news as much as possible. As a journalist who spends hours a day reading through news feeds – even if most of it is about gadgets and gizmos – I hadn’t quite realized how much the onslaught of negativity affected my well-being and outlook.
Google acknowledges this new feature isn’t a magic solution, but it’s an important step in the right direction, and one that will hopefully start to permeate more news platforms. But we in the media are just as responsible for the stories we choose to cover; I just hope more of us take the time to tell you something good.