What were the silver linings of 2018?


This year was full of terrible events – we’re hurtling towards environmental destruction, mumble rap is very popular and makes no sense (see Lil Pump’s Gucci Gang), and Brexit is a never-ending disaster – but there are reasons to be cheerful.

One way to be cheered is by practising “factfulness”. Theorised by Swedish academic Hans Rosling, factfulness is an antidote to our over dramatisation of the world. While things might certainly be bad, they are also getting better in ways that can be overshadowed by negativity. For instance, over the past 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost halved, yet polls show that fewer than 10% of people know this. I’ve been lucky to be involved this year in the Guardian’s Upside project, which exists to foreground positive stories to combat the onslaught of news-pessimism. Memorable stories we reported on this year included the scientists nearing a cure for HIV, the regreening of millions of trees in Niger, and Kent’s music school for expelled students.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 28/12/18]