Earlier this month activist/ rapper Jaden Smith posted a video to social media of a food truck serving the homeless. Later we discovered Jaden Smith orchestrated the pop up food bank for his 21st birthday. The I Love You Restaurant video on Twitter garnered over 1.5 million views, and over 4.5 million on Instagram. Viral posts like the I Love You Restaurant is a perfect example of the new shared care culture evolving from the self-care movement. And it spotlights people’s desire for more good news stories.
Jaden Smith’s I Love You Restaurant
The I Love You Restaurant was devised as a conscious care project to offer health and wellness to the wider community. The food truck was simple, nothing blinged out, just white letters on a black truck with the words “I Love You Restaurant” on the side. In Jaden Smith’s video people can be seen walking up to the window and receiving a bag of food and a bottle of Just Water.
According to the artist via his social media the shared care project began as “a movement that is all about giving people what they deserve, healthy, vegan food for free’. The restaurant targeted LA’s homeless and poor population providing free vegan meals in upcycled and biodegradable packaging. There was very little PR. The I Love You Restaurant launched on Instagram with a few featured posts which included their location and service times.
The World Takes Notice
Twenty-four hours after posting the video there were thousands of shares and comments from people around the world commending the artist for his post. Celebrity culture magazine Pop Sugar remarked on Jaden’s new *philanthropic project noting he was met with an outpouring of social media support from fans and fellow celebrities, many asking how they can help his cause. Kehlani, Taraji P. Henson, Yara Shahidi, and SZA were just some of the stars to leave positive messages on Jaden’s feed.
The I Love You Restaurant Instagram account now has over 140,000 followers including model/ Gurls Talk activist Adwoa Aboah and Celebrity Chef/ Whole Foods Nutritionist Serena Poon.
Why Isn’t This A Bigger Story?
The largely positive feedback for the I Love Your Restaurant from celebrities and fans implies that good news stories are hungered for. So, it begs the question why big media outlets didn’t cover the story and why this news wasn’t quickly replaced by another good news story. For example, Louis Vuitton’s LVMH announced Stella McCartney’s groundbreaking new sustainability partnership, and the Netherlands launched an innovative project turning over 300 bus stops into homes for bees. Neither of these stories made the news. Instead America’s attention was quickly swayed from the I Love You Restaurant post towards big media reporting on racism by the sitting commander in chief.
If you talk to media journalists, they’ll say stats prove people do not read good news stories and that bad news sell more and sell faster. In support of this claim, in 2014 BBC reported on an experiment by researchers in collaboration with McGill University in Canada. Volunteers were asked to select stories about politics from a news website in an effort to uncover how people relate to news. After selecting stories participants answered questions on the kind of political news they would like to read.
The researchers found people often chose stories with a negative tone – corruption, set-backs, hypocrisy and so on – rather than neutral or positive stories. People interested in current affairs and politics in particular were more likely to choose the bad news.
And yet when asked, these people said they preferred good news. On average, they said that the media was too focused on negative stories.
There may be some truth to this statement. For example, every major media outlet follows Trump and his actions but, whether they support or condemn him media outlets typically report out with a scathing title and a more scathing article.
The Desire For Good News Stories
Lately there has been a shift towards good news readership and reporting. In 2018 the Guardian launched a pilot project to see how readers would respond if they deliberately sought out the good things happening in the world. What they found is people are more likely to read and share positive news stories with almost one in 10 readers on average sharing stories on social media.
Since the launch the Guardian has committed to reporting on “pioneers, trailblazers, best practice, unsung heroes, ideas that work, ideas that might, and innovations whose time might have come.”
Responding to Internet Fatigue
What precipitated the desire for good news stories was the start of internet fatigue. The concept of internet fatigue began circulating in 2014 as online readers began to say they couldn’t deal with so much negative opinion. The term “Internet fatigue” was touted as an actual symptom with only one cure- unplug.
But the syndrome and its cure didn’t last long primarily because people felt disconnected from the world and from family and friends. According to a Pew study, almost 90% of Americans use the internet. And while the internet is negative in some ways, it is still perceived as one of the most successful and useful tools humankind has ever created.
The Self-Care Movement
To combat internet fatigue from negative news stories without disengaging, online users found solace in the self-care movement. Self-care encourages people to take an active role in protecting their own mental and physical health and their well-being and happiness.
Self-care is a lifestyle innovation with thriving new businesses and a slew of online apps. The movement is majorly responsible for further pushing wellness into mainstream culture as a lifestyle goal.
The Self-Care Movement And Shared Care Culture
Today people are more invested than ever in developing a sustainable, self-care environment with online users customizing pages in websites like Flipboard to filter good news and self-care coverage into one place.
But more recently, there has been a cultural shift towards collective communities as hashtags like #selfcare evolves into #sharedcare. With shared care the focus is not just on looking after yourself, but on sharing information and resources within a group.
At the heart of shared care are the values of conscious care where people seek out a wider sense of community to extend their health and happiness. This more conscious and humane counterculture is already reshaping lifestyle ideals.
By extension readers have begun to search increasingly for value stories that do not only care for oneself, but for the community and the planet. As a result, we can expect more positive projects and shared care news stories like Jaden Smith’s I Love Your Restaurant where there is either a big environmental or social impact.
The question is, how soon will big media outlets get the memo?
*The I Love You Restaurant is Jaden Smith’s second philanthropic venture. His first company, Just Water, currently provides free water to Flint residents effected by poised pipes.