Turn on the TV or fire up your phone. You’ll find several narratives telling you how the world is spiraling out of control, full of racist cops and mindless thugs, terrorists pining to destroy the west and bombs that seem to be decimating every square inch of the Middle East. Eastern Asia is rife with internal conflicts, Burma is in the middle of a genocide and world superpowers seem to be running proxy wars anywhere they can. A lot of it is true, some of it is exaggeration and some is outright lies — it’s difficult to tell the difference between what’s what, but regardless: the world seems like it’s on fire.

Why is that? The media can be a malicious bunch, huddling around ten protesters to make it seem like the whole city is rioting. The media outlets that generally tell the truth are going to struggle with their ratings — how many times have you seen a small protest on television with ten people and sat down and watched, eyes glued to the screen? Probably less than you may have sat down and watched what seemed like an actual riot. Those views mean exposure to advertising, which means more money for whoever is broadcasting. So it is both the fault of the media and the consumer, if fault must be laid somewhere.

Uplifting news may garner a lot of likes on Facebook, but it still doesn’t have the impact that say, violence does, because it doesn’t stir the “I need to do something” response (even if that something never happens).

We also live in the dawn of the information age. Video from around the world is more accessible than ever — when we may have seen nothing but print headlines in the newspaper before, we can now view firefight after firefight in Syria, or racial conflicts across the United States, or a terrorist attack in Europe. These things are at our fingertips, and despite the fact that they might have been lessening in frequency compared to previous centuries, it seems more real than ever before as we watch it with our own eyes.