Rainy Days and Mondays Get Me Down

Writer Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way has an interesting perspective: “We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story.”

Welcome good friends, to The Silver Lining News (SLN.)

We are here to open up the windows and turn on the lights on everyday news and mass media coverage trends. While there is even more superb reporting and enterprising news available than ever, we believe something is often missing: the good-news part about the bad news.

We’re guessing, at one time or another, you’ve told someone: “I have good news and I have bad news…” The good news is actually the smaller part of the story, a consoling item. But, imagine what news stories would be like if each one included the good side, not just the bad side of the story. Not possible?

If it seems like mass media is loaded with more negative tones than ever, heavy on police-scanner generated stories, it’s because it literally is. But the media outlets aren’t entirely responsible for driving it; we are too, the news consumers. So we are actually in control of our news more than we think are:

According to Pew Research, most Americans now get news in some digital format.

  • 82 percent of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop.
  • 54 percent said they got news on a mobile device.

Now, consider this:

  • Online publications invite news consumers to comment on every story, “share” their feelings about it through social media, such as Facebook.
  • Sixty-four percent of American adults use Facebook.
    • Half of Facebook users also get news there without even going to look for it.

So, that’s a lot of feelings circulating about the news out there. And now, researchers find that feelings can be highly contagious in the virtual world.

Scientists Lorenzo Coviello, Massimo Franceschetti, Yunkyu Sohn, James H. Fowler, University of California San Diego; Nicholas A. Christakis, Department of Sociology, Yale University and Adam D.I. Kramer and Cameron Marlow, Facebook, Inc. analyzed one billion anonymous status updates among more than 100 million Facebook users between 2009 and 2012.

Fowler’s team used a software program to analyze the posts, measuring the emotional content of each one and classifying them as positive or negative. They added up the negative and positive posts from 100 different cities for three years, and matched that with a topic none of the Facebook users could control — rainy days.

The results were compiled in the article “Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks” and published last March on PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed online publication that features reports on primary research from various scientific disciplines. Here’s what they found:

  • Rainy days increased negative posts by 1.16 %
  • Rainy days reduced the number of positive posts by 1.19 %

They also looked at how the negative posts from friends in rainy cities affected the posts of friends in sunny cities:

  • If it’s rainy in New York, your New York friend’s gloomy post will affect you in sunny San Diego
  • The negative posts spawned more of the same, and the happy posts spawned more happy posts:
    • Each additional negative post triggered 1.29 more negative posts among one’s friends
    • Each additional positive post produced an additional 1.75 positive posts among friends

We wonder: what would’ve the data looked like on posts made just the day after rainy days – when the clouds cleared, for instance?!

At SLN, being the optimists that we are, we’re the people that post after the rainy days, figuratively speaking, notwithstanding the experience of being in the rain.

We believe everyone needs silver linings, which our guts say can be found in every story. It’s not that we are minimizing the value and importance of any news that affects our lives. It’s just that we hold great value in grasping perspective, obtaining closure and gleaning solutions from past experience. We recognize that silver linings are not always exactly good news. Rather a silver lining is at the least, something redemptive that gives worth to an otherwise hopeless situation or experience. And to us, that’s good news we want to spread.

We also believe that there are several sectors in our society that create silver linings for us every day, the military for instance, but only receive minimal, if any news coverage. As far as we’re concerned, every service person is a hero. We’re also guessing that many don’t realize there are gobs of organizations and businesses that consider the silver lining concept their essential north star. And there are professionals that monetize their mistakes – you know, making lemonade. These are the game changers in our lives, the stories we’ll be chasing. We want to be first with their good news.

We’re committed in our shop to working leads until we excavate that one elusive silver lining.  We’re a little old-school here, committed to fourth-estate ideals. Our enterprising content actually depends on what comes out after a story simmers. And what we craft from that will be, essentially, artisan information developed the good ‘ol shoe-leather way. By the way, we don’t own one police scanner.

Please join us in our quest to bring every silver lining to the world. We’re absolutely certain that you have your own unique silver lining story and we would treasure the experience if you would share it with us. We will work tirelessly to earn your trust so that when you tell your good friends, “I have good news and I have bad news…” we will be one of them.


Linda T. Kennedy
Launch Editor