By Byron McNutt

DHI Media

Do you wonder why the world seems worse than it is? Well, some say our primitive biases and fears are magnified by online algorithms.

We have a natural tendency to seek information that confirms our pre-existing views and discount information that doesn’t. That’s called confirmation bias and social media algorithms lump us into buckets and constantly feed us info that conforms to what we’ve previously showed an interest in.

Because of social media, a positive story becomes absolutely glowing, a negative story turns horrific like the tall tales of ancient oral tradition.

Before the internet, life choices were made based on a trickle of information...but now information is shot at us like it’s coming from a fire hose. The 24/7 news cycle makes every event around the world seem like it is happening in our own backyard.

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Can you cover an unexpected $400 expense? Would missing one or two payroll checks cause a crisis with your family’s finances?

Several recent studies have found that 40 percent of Americans don’t have the cash on hand to meet an unexpected expense and those Americans would have to borrow the money, or put the expense on their credit card.

The Federal Reserve Board did say 33 percent of respondents said they are living comfortably and another 40 percent said they are doing okay financially. Most workers are satisfied with their wages and benefits and are optimistic about their future job opportunities.

Fewer than 40 percent of adults think their retirement savings are on track. Twenty-five percent of Americans said they have no retirement savings at all.

One thing that needs to be kept in mind ... some people simply have no financial discipline and they spend more than they earn. We’re a credit economy. Many people choose to live by the creed: buy now and pay later.

Where you live matters. The cost of living can be significantly different. There are many households that bring home $1,500 a week, but they spend $1,750 a week. Some have no choice but to overspend, but others are addicted to debt.

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Does this story describe your situation, or that of someone you know?

Lena awakes during the night to find that Ole was not in their bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and staring at the wall.

She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee. “What’s the matter, dear?” she whispers as she steps into the room, “Why are you down here at this time of night?”

Ole looks up from his coffee, “I am just remembering when we first met 20 years ago and started dating. You were only 16. Do you remember back then?” he says solemnly.

Lena is touched to tears thinking that Ole is so caring, so sensitive. “Yes, I do,” she replies.

Ole pauses. The words were not coming easily. “Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?”

“Yes, I remember,” said Lena, lowering herself into a chair beside him.

Ole continues. “Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, “Either you marry my daughter, or I will send you to jail for 20 years.”

“I remember that, too,” she replies softly.

He wipes another tear from his cheek and says, “I would have gotten out today.”