Positivity

Lately I've fallen back into a bad habit. I've been reading the comments posted on news stories–and not just any news stories, the controversial ones. I read the comments on reports I know are going to bring out the crazies (and by crazy I mean anyone who doesn't agree with my point of view). I'm kind of just kidding about what I deem to be crazy but you know what I mean. It's like I'm purposely searching for things that will get my dander up.

In the early days of the Internet, I was naive and earnestly commented on issues that were important to me. I never engaged in spewing hate, but I confess to trying, now and then, to present my argument in a thoughtful way to try to sway other commenters. It wasn't long before I realized that spirited debate was mostly not the point. Comments on news and other stories were and are just an opportunity for the angry, often prejudiced, mob to spread their venom. I quickly learned that message boards and reader comments were not the place for me.

Some people get off on this sort of thing, but I take everything so personally. I recently read a news story about Los Angeles boycotting the state of Arizona in response to their new immigration law and headed straight to the comments because I knew they were going to be rough. A lot of people didn't have very nice things to say about the city I live in and love. And I actually got depressed.

But like I said, this has sort of become a habit with me lately. For the last year or so I've been visiting the website of the Catholic League simply because I know there's going to be something on it that's going to piss me off. That's a little sick, no?

I mostly find that when I'm writing (or editing/revising, as I am now), I tend to get on a roll where the words flow freely and then I suddenly hit a brick wall and I'm stuck (for instance, I'm stuck now and I decided to take a break to write up this post). The first thing I want is distraction, and we all know their ain't nothing more distracting than the Internet. And when I'm finished checking email, CNN, Facebook, etc. and those words still aren't flowing, the next thing I do is feed my compulsion for negativity via blogs, websites, and reader comments that I know will ruffle my feathers.

I am declaring a moratorium, here and now, on this behavior because it serves no purpose other than to upset me. I have enough going on in this head of mine–I definitely don't need to look for negativity elsewhere.

What about you? Are you sometimes drawn to negativity or do you try only to engage in positivity?

Holly West

4 Comments

  1. Good post! I think people get off on the anonymity of the Internet and like to hide behind a screen name (and no photo) to post that sort of thing. I try hard to steer clear of comments on places like Youtube, “celebrity” blogs, stories on hot button issues… because I know it’s going to be filled with the type of comments you just mentioned.
    What’s more disturbing though, at least to me, is wandering into some of the political/social pages on sites like Facebook, where these same comments are connected to a real name and real face. Somehow it makes it worse when you can see a real person connected to it… and they look, well, normal.

  2. I also think it’s a case of the negativity rising to the top–most people wouldn’t write some of the stuff I see, and the ones who do, whether to be provocative or just need the outlet for some reason, tend to be negative.
    I think the more thoughtful commenters probably saw long ago that engaging the negativity was pointless.
    I haven’t seen much of that on FB but I don’t look for it there, so that’s probably why.

  3. I think negativity in all forms, anger, depression, psychosis, all feed creativity in a huge way. I think it’s very natural that since you’re unable to release epinephrine (endorphins) in a physical way, you’re looking for that release mentally. I ALSO think it’s good that you realized what’s going on and made a conscious decision to stop. I agree that it’s not healthy for you to just look for things to get upset about. It’s also pretty natural though, like gawking at an accident, or watching a reality show.
    Now you just need to find a positive way to stimulate your creative juices that’s as effective!

  4. Great comment, Antoinette!
    Actually, I am able to be physical to a degree. As part of “rehab” I have to swim or use the recumbent bike 3 times a week and I recently joined a beautiful gym as incentive. So that has been really helpful, as has just getting out of the house since so much of my time since the accident has been spent on the couch with my laptop in my lap.
    I do kind of get a “rush” when I read something particularly ugly, although I never really thought of it as being appealing and thus something to search for. But it certainly explains the behavior. We get our rushes where we can.
    Lastly, I wonder if any of this is the reason I’m so entranced by crime fiction? If so, there’s a lot of people who share it out there!

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