A New Media Approach Focused On Individual & Societal Transformation | Research SurveyMar 28, 2021
Over the last decade, Collective Evolution has been committed to forging a radically new approach to media and the discussion of society and current events. This new approach was developed by our founder Joe Martino, and collectively refined as years went on. As a media and education company, we feel that humanity can live in a world where we can truly thrive, but there are many barriers in our current worldviews and culture that halt that reality.
With our work, we not only seek to inform people about what is going on in the world around them, but we also invite them to transform their lives personally so they can be a participant in changing society around them.
For this reason, part of our mission at CE is to observe what is happening in our world from a more neutral point of view, asking what about us and our current human story creates our world, society, ideas, day-to-day choices, and policies to be the way they are. Neutrality in media and general conversation seems something that’s deeply missing. Often we’re politically or emotionally charged, seeking to confirm our own point of view without seeking to understand what is truly going on and why. Because of that, it was important to us to develop a style of informing people that encourages people to be in a state of mind and being where they’re more open to exploring new ideas without bias, cognitive distortions, and immediate resistance.
Given the current state of both mainstream and alternative media — mostly politically biased, focused on placating corporate owners (in the case of mainstream media), and delivered in a style that doesn’t necessarily focus on asking how viewers emotional well-being and resilience is being affected — we felt there was a big changed needed. We set out to create media that can look at any subject and invite deeper, solution-oriented inquiry and yet still consider the emotional well-being of viewers.
We felt this was worthy task, as most people will tell you news is often negative, draining or driving people into political divisions. Since most platforms either focus on simple “feel good” or well-being-based content, or on news from a purely journalistic sense, often with a political bias, we felt it was useful to see how we could explore important subjects in our world that do need to be talked about but aren’t necessarily good news — and yet do so in a way that helps us process reality in a healthy manner. This will in turn help us, as a society, create change from actions that come from a different way of thinking and being, one more focused on emotional regulation and expanded awareness.
Our content focus is thus on both personal transformation and news/current events from a new approach. After 12 years of experience, we have chosen to measure whether or not people are having a more positive experience consuming current event information.
To create that meaningful change in our world, perhaps a world where humans can truly thrive, we feel it’s important to expose people to new ideas and new ways of thinking that are based on possibility vs. just maintaining our existing paradigms. Humans are typically only going to imagine what is possible in our world, from our individual lives to how society functions, based on what we’re exposed to consistently.
If our mainstream and alternative media is only focused on telling stories that feature making slight alterations in our existing culture or society, without exploring what else might be possible, the average person will not think outside of their current way of seeing the world, as they are simply not given the information. So we don’t hear about new energy solutions that could transform the way humanity uses energy, for example. Or we don’t get to explore ideas surrounding the creation of new or different economic systems. Instead, we continually hold our perception of the world in place and continue to create the world we see today.
One way of thinking about this is to imagine a carpenter who has a limited set of tools. They know what they can do based on the tools they currently have. They imagine the shapes they can cut and the projects they can build with the tools they know. Then someone comes along and provides a brand-new tool that brings the capability to do something different. This new tool can fashion completely new shapes out of wood — creating things that were not possible before because the carpenter could not imagine how a shape like that could be created. With this expanded consciousness, the carpenter becomes aware of what they are capable of creating, and they can take the steps towards doing this. The key takeaway here is that the carpenter’s awareness and creativity expanded once they were given the idea of what else could be possible.
In our world today, our technology and tools expand much like in the example above, but because we don’t talk about it, our culture around what is possible for society and human community does not. Instead of telling humanity’s current story over and over again, our work seeks not only to show us what else is possible but also to invite the viewer to engage their imagination to envision what else is possible. The inspiration behind this came from asking thousands of people over the years: “What type of world would you truly want to live in if there were no limits?”
Most people respond the same way — seeing abundance and peace. It’s a world without scarcity, where people care about each other and do what they love. Since virtually every aspect of scarcity in our society is 100% man-made, we are living in a human-created society that welcomes scarcity, although most people don’t actually want this. If this is what we have but we don’t want it, why are we doing it?
In February 2021, we ran a preliminary research survey that received over 1,500 responses. Since our first question was how has our audience been affected by our work, we focused on audience members from our Telegram channel and email list. Participants were asked a series of 15 questions about their experience with our work and were given the opportunity to respond to Likert scale questions. Answer options included strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree.
Given our sample size, we calculate a 99% confidence level at plus or minus 3 for the results provided. Below are a summary of the results and some important discussion around what we felt the results indicated. (In simple terms, this means our results might be off by 3% in either direction.)
The majority of those who responded were female, which corresponds to Facebook analytics of CE’s demographic, and the largest chunk of our audience is over 55. The assumption has always been that CE’s audience is primarily millennials; however, this has never been the case. Our respondents have been consuming our content for anywhere from 6 months to way back in 2009 when we started.
Results & Discussion
When thinking about the general purpose of news and current event reporting, people typically turn on media to find out what is happening in the world around them. While some stories can be seen as not useful to the average person, others are, and it can be argued that it’s important to know what’s happening around us so that we can make effective decisions in our lives.
We asked whether or not our audience feels that CE helps them with the basic tactic of making sense of our world and what’s going on around them, especially in a larger-scale sense, as we focus more on reporting on bigger events and general culture.
- 84% feel that CE’s work helps them make sense of what’s happening in the world.
One of the things we notice in general mainstream media is that it’s often focused on stories that invite people to feel charged, down or drained. This is likely due to the fact that drama and bad news sells the best, so media, by nature, will reinforce that culture as it aligns with their profit and popularity. On the alternative media side, it’s common that this is the same approach. Alternative media might explore different narratives or more controversial subjects and, when doing so, tend to bring a focus of blame, judgment, and anger against those involved in something people generally don’t like.
While we feel it’s important to express and note emotional reactions to things, it’s not healthy to maintain a constant state of draining emotions over time, as it has a big effect on our physiology, well-being and ability to think clearly. Thus, CE aims to be open to exploring controversial subjects but without the focus on eliciting emotion and judgment, or we spend the time to invite a processing of an emotion that may arise.
We feel it is useful to explore something like corruption in an area of society, as it brings into question whether we should continue to support what happens in our world the way we do. The focus on the existence of a level of corruption is therefore useful up to the point of understanding that it’s happening and that it’s now up to us to decide how we want to deal with it as a community.
A couple of key emotions or states of being we recognized as being useful in exploring when it comes whether or not we’re informing, helping maintain physiological regulation (leading to better emotional state) and offering a solution-oriented approach was to find out if people felt generally grounded and empowered when consuming our content.
- 87% of our audience say they feel grounded consuming our content, and 77% feel empowered.
We decided to take this questioning to another level and begin comparing how people feel when it comes to feeling “inspired” and “grounded” when consuming our media in comparison to consuming mainstream media.
- 93% said they feel more grounded consuming our content than when consuming MSM.
- 95% feel more inspired consuming our content than when they consume MSM.
We were not all that surprised by these numbers, as our audience, by nature of their current lifestyle and general outlook, likely does not have a favorable opinion about mainstream media. Further, mainstream media was one of the key inspirations for us to create our work to begin with, as it leaves a lot untold, its narratives are corporate-driven, and it really displays the “if it bleeds, it leads” mindset.
We compared our audiences’ experience with other alternative media outlets. Compared to when they consume other alternative media outlets:
- 73% said they feel more grounded consuming our content
- 73% said they feel more inspired consuming our content
We were not all that surprised with the results, as we have received a great deal of feedback over the years from viewers that specifically indicated this. We were quite pleased nonetheless, as this shows that our intention to create this experience is indeed occurring within people. This was a key indicator that our mission to provide a model of how media can evolve to better impact viewers and yet still inform them may be working.
Part of our vision is to create media that doesn’t simply report but also invites inquiry. Some of us have a natural inclination to hear something and inquire further, go down other pathways of thinking. Others don’t, as they either don’t have the time, interest, or natural inclination. That said, we feel it is important to exercise our mind and imagination by posing questions within our work whenever possible. These questions might be about the complete facts of a topi, the human condition behind something that happened, or even how the reader might feel about something we’re reporting on. In any case, the idea here is we want to encourage a habit of asking questions — as opposed to solely being focused on jumping to conclusions, especially ones that don’t necessarily move humanity towards a more thriving world.
We asked our audience whether or not our work encourages them to ask questions vs. simply being told what answers are.
- 94% feel they are being invited to ask questions vs. just being told answers.
We clearly see here that the style is working, and while the question of whether it’s the best approach may be up for debate, our general sense is that it helps people to steer clear of bias a little better and perhaps be more open to uncertainty, which can help maintain a state of play and curiosity to explore further.
We cover more controversial subjects at CE at times. For example, in the advent of new scientific findings surrounding the collapse of WTC Building 7 on 9/11, we learn that Building 7 could not have fallen from fires alone on 9/11, as the official explanation states. In fact, computer models show that only a controlled demolition could have taken Building 7 down in the way it came down. This subject invites a viewer to re-examine what happened on 9/11. While we may not know all the answers, grounded exploration lets us ask bigger questions. For example, why were we told a story that wasn’t true, and why is inquiry into this shut down even with scientific evidence showing the need to re-ask these questions?
These questions have huge implications, as they lead toward a larger conversation around the role of government, mainstream media and whether either are truly serving humanity to thrive. In our everyday society, we often believe we are all doing our best to help make the world a better place, but what if we aren’t taking the most effective actions because we are unaware of what’s actually going on and how things truly work? Do we not need to know where we are really at before choosing actions?
Subjects like that of Building 7 are often explored in alternative media, and it’s very common that writers, show hosts or analysts exhibit a great deal of judgment and anger while delivering the content. Typically, we might see a lot of hate directed towards government, or hate and judgment towards other people who simply believe the official story because that’s what is commonly accepted.
We have never felt that it was a worthwhile exercise to divide one another by those who believe and don’t, nor by judging others who have different perspectives, whatever these may be. Not only have we observed this as a tool that divides, but we know from basic psychology that this type of behaviour will create a loss in connection with people who disagree with each other. So we consistently asked ourselves: can we talk about these subjects and yet provide the tools and inquiry to invite people to not only emotionally process their response to tough information but also help them be respectful and connected to their fellow community?
We don’t feel our survey can answer how effective our style has been at doing all of that just yet, but we were able to get a few promising signs that this might be the case.
- 72% of our audience stated that our work generally helps them feel better emotionally.
We feel a lot of this has to do with the emotional state of our team as we produce content, which in turn naturally produces messaging, inquiry, and text that won’t trigger draining emotional responses so easily. Also, we feel that reading something that brings a sense of peace regarding tough subjects invites the reader to realize that others were able to see these events in a way that is more regulated, inspiring them to want to also feel this way yet still take meaningful action to create change.
- 78% of our audience feel we don’t try to make them feel angry or upset at all as they consume our content.
This might be in comparison to other show hosts or journalists who overtly try to make people angry or tell them they should feel angry.
Perhaps our most meaningful metric related to these big questions above, especially given our audience is naturally more attracted to alternative media as opposed to mainstream, is this:
- 63% said that we cover tough or controversial events better, keeping them more emotionally calm and regulated, in comparison to those same events being covered by mainstream media or alternative media.
Again, we felt this was important, as we don’t find it useful to avoid these conversations. In fact, we feel that avoiding them or not having talking about them honestly has a detrimental effect on society as a whole, as one of two things can often happen.
The first is that people feel they can’t get an honest discussion around these events via mainstream media, so they are pushed to the fringes of culture where perhaps they enter an echo chamber and deeper methods of thinking are not applied to all topics. (We note this echo chamber very much exists in mainstream conversations, as well, given that either side seems to want to divide themselves.)
The other possibility is that not focusing on having open an honest conversation further erodes community and trust in any societal infrastructure, because quite frankly, many things that are denied in mainstream and pushed to the fringes are, in fact, real or based on evidence. So why not discuss them? One could argue that this loss in trust is exactly what’s needed at this point to bring into question whether these institutions are working towards serving humanity.
One of the final key questions we asked was more specific to transformation. It focused on whether or not people have experienced some level of noticeable change in their life as a result of CE’s work.
- 54% of people felt that they have transformed their life as a result of CE, whereas 41% said they neither agreed or disagreed that a change had occurred.
We’d be curious to go deeper with the 41% that neither agreed or disagreed, as this metric might suggest the question was not specific enough, given we had such a large portion in this middle ground. We also wondered if so many felt unsure because lasting change is often subtle and happens over time. We do not want to speculate too much, however, as this preliminary question is just that — preliminary.
This final question is related to one of the main areas of focus for us. We had hoped to have more courses and education-related content developed at this point in our journey but have encountered a number of challenges. Our focus on courses was greater from 2012 to 2016, slowing a lot between 2017 and 2019 due to a massive shift in online censorship that created many business-related challenges and a loss of 80% of our staff. As of 2020, we began focusing on education again, and 2021 is showing an uptick in course consumption. We feel that by the end of 2021, this number will rise significantly.
One of the big challenges we have wanted to solve is the synthesis of conflicting information amongst the collective. There are many differing views out there on many subjects, and sometimes ostensibly sound science supports opposite views on a subject. One side claims the other side is false and unscientific, yet both have validity and expert perspectives. So how do we synthesize this information and come to agree? One thing we know for sure is that we can’t do it by calling the other side names, acting angrily toward them, labelling them conspiracy theorists or claiming everything they do is fake news. This only creates further divide and greater echo chambers. Maturity is key here, and there appears to be a general lack of it in our current culture, across the board. We hope to shift this culture with our work and style.
Active Actions Being Taken to Expand This Message & Culture
Through the Collective Evolution Institute (website coming soon), we are working to create more content that helps to bring greater learning on how to implement these strategies in the experience of both journalists and everyday citizens. These skills and improvements in self-awareness are valuable regardless of profession.
The CE Institute aims to explore new and emerging ideas that help us shift towards a societal paradigm where humanity can truly thrive. This involves both personal transformation and the awareness of solutions that can be implemented when we reframe the possibilities for how society can function. The institute is a collaborative engine designed to explore many verticals that make up the human experience, the through-line being that we can create a thriving world once we are willing to holistically re-question our existing worldviews.
Our new course, Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking vol 1 & 2, looks at some of the first stages of developing self-awareness, some basic self-regulation techniques, and learning to become aware of bias. In 2021, we will be releasing a few more courses on further self regulation techniques and improving communication around new and emerging ideas as we observe there is a huge crisis of effective communication in society today.
We also recommend further reading of a 2020 essay written by Joe Martino called 'Conspireality: Time For A Serious Conversation? ' as it covers some of the specific nuances around why meaningful, yet grounded, conversation needs to happen about the existence of conspiracy in today's society.
We also have a few more courses being prepared that are specific to journalists.
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