Negativity and the Art of Blowing Things Up

When you are told you are being a "negative" person, it's often by someone who is afraid of truth.  It comes from a place of wishful thinking where if you don't point out the negativity the problem will either magically disappear or people will forget about it.  It's the same mindset that let child sexual abuse and domestic violence occur for years with nary a mention in the media or polite society. 

People who are truly content with whatever another person is being negative about won't even grace the so-called negativity with a mention or thought because it will be out of the realm of their possibilities, or -- gasp -- they will discuss it without labeling it "negativity."  It is only the people who truly don't believe the shit they are slinging that will get defensive about it.

Why rock the boat?  Why upset the apple cart?  Why speak ill of something?  Why point out flaws?  I can't speak to everyone who does these things, but I can say that when I am doing them it is in the hopes of making things better.  You bring up the shortcomings so that solutions can be reached.  I called it being "realistic."  Some people would rather just daydream.

I know plenty of positive people who try to say something equally positive about everything, and that is totally fine by me.  Many of these people, when confronted with perceived negativity, embrace it well and want a discussion (after all, you just can't be negative without offering solutions -- it's like being accepting without being able to explain why -- you just look like a simpleton).  There are others, however, who think that "never is heard a discouraging word" is a mantra to live by.  It is the symbolic plugging of the ears with one's fingers and chanting, "Naaa, naaa, naaa.  I can't hear you!"  Comical at best.  Destructive at worst.

I watched the news earlier (hence this post) where the "man on the street" was being interviewed.  The "man" this time happened to be a woman looked like she really loved her credit cards and Macy's.  The reporter asked her what she thought of gas prices going up due to unrest in the Middle East.  Her response?  "Why can't they leave well enough alone?"  Why be negative?  Why protest?  Because well-enough isn't good enough, and that reporter should have called her out to explain her take on the Middle East so the viewing public could see her for the fool she is instead of letting her get away with such a statement.  Why must they complain?  It bums me out.

We live in a culture where speaking one's mind is fine ... as long as it goes along with the status quo.  Stray from that well-trod path of least resistance and you slapped down by people who have never quite managed to see the road ahead.  Why can't you leave well enough alone?  The answer is simple:  It's that attitude which made "well enough" a living Hell for anyone with anything that resembles an active mind.

Sometimes you have to throw your hands in the air and let the chips fall where they may (try working for any kind of corporate or government organization and you'll be doing that a lot if only to keep your sanity).  Sometimes you have to be vocal.  In those times, when you speak out for what you perceive to be wrong, and people label you "negative," well -- stay on course.  It means you're onto something.  It means you've hit a hot spot.  It may not be worth it in the end, and at some point you may just want to let people drown so that you can smugly sit back and one point and between fits of laughter say, "I told you so."  But until you hit that point you need to not let the wide-eyed lobotomies turn you into one of them.  Or you need to shut the hell up and enjoy the show.


drj v2010 said...

is there a per use charge for the last sentence of this post?

Jessica said...

Aversion to so called negative thinking seems like a very American thing, but also regionally different. In NYC negative thinking is common, almost prized. You may even appear naive if you focus too much on the positive. In the midwest, it is more taboo to touch on things that bring up negative thoughts, shut up and keep watching tv and shopping, the reserved protestant, the repressed American. Here in California I have found this disease of "manifesting" or the power of positive thinking. The implication is always if you think negative then negative things happen to you, and around you. I've heard many use the blanket term "quantum physics" as a justification, although few can define the term. It seems foreign to these positive happy golden california people, that there is positive power in negative thinking, and that negative thinking can be equated with critical thinking. (Excuse me for my geographic generalities, of course there are exceptions.) Americans are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. Instead of thinking too much, which causes negativity, why not just take some prozac? The darkest times lead to our greatest insights.

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

The last sentence is free. The rest will cost you...

CA does seem to have that addiction to happiness, which tells me most Californians are miserable. Being East Coast I remember the "negativity" there. I still think it's realism.