Are We Having Fun Yet?

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Not if we’re staying up to date with the news.

The news isn’t much fun anymore—at least not for millennials and Gen Xers.

That’s according to a recent study by the Media Insight Project, which surveyed 5,975 16- to 40-year-olds. The findings give the lie to the common belief that young people could care less about what’s happening in the world. They do care. They just don’t much like it.

Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said they follow the news daily, 71% from social media and 45% from traditional sources, such as TV, radio, newspapers and news sites. “They are more engaged in more ways than people give them credit for,” says Michael Bolden, CEO and executive director of the American Press Institute.

But for many, following the news doesn’t do much to tickle the pleasure centers of the brain. Only 32% say they enjoy keeping up with current events—a 21% drop from the previous Media Insight Project study, seven years ago. And only 37% actually like discussing the news with friends and family, down from 53% seven years ago, when the news was bad—but unarguably less bad than today.

Misinformation, not surprisingly, is a major gripe: Nine out of ten respondents said as much, and seven out of 10 said they felt personally victimized by misinformation.

Grim stuff, to be sure. But the good news is that there’s actually plenty of it around if you know where to look.  Websites like notallnerwsisbad, dailygood, sunnyskyz and abound with reportage guaranteed to draw smiles and sighs of delight from the most news-weary grinches. Here’s a brief sampling:

  • Mattel unveils the new Jane Goodall Barbie doll.
  • Study finds that dolphin poop plays a “significant role” in helping coral reefs survive.
  • American bison are making a major comeback.
  • Nebraska man makes world’s longest journey by pumpkin boat on 60th birthday.
  • Getting plants “drunk” insulates them against drought, according to new research.
  • Eating insects can be good for the planet.

While you may have missed these items, what may well be the best news in months received above-the-fold attention from most major media outlets: Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s decision, with his family, to transfer ownership of the company to a group of trusts and nonprofits created to solve the environmental crisis and defend nature.

“Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits,” Chouinard wrote in a letter posted on the company’s website. “But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.”

In August 2020, Patagonia was featured in one of Carpenter Group’s earliest Brand Acts of Kindness profiles—one of “a handful of brands in the United States that models empathy, equality and a commitment to serve,” we said.

In all candor, we had no idea that Patagonia would take that commitment as far as it has. Then again, who did? At a time when keeping up with the news may not be your idea of a good time, the astonishing news from Patagonia brings only good cheer.