Why do we as humans look at the negatives of a situation rather than seeing through to the positives? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that question. What I do have is my input about how we need to fix this and not give into the negativity that we all crave.
I am going to direct my focus to the debate side of negativity. When developing an argument people often negatively attack opponents rather than positively discussing their own beliefs.
The most obvious example of this is with political campaigns. Very rarely do we find a candidate running television commercials that do not attack his/her opposing candidates. Personally, I care much less about why I shouldn’t vote for X. I care about why I should vote for Y. I don’t feel as though I need to give hard examples about political campaigns. The 2016 election is still far in the future and you can already see all the negativity following suit.
Staying on the political track, I recently saw a tweet about Hillary Clinton and the gay marriage legalization. On July 1st, Clinton tweeted “Proud.” with an image that said “History” in rainbow lettering. Just over five hours later, someone had already made a comparison tweet about this post. @hillclit put the image of Clinton’s 2015 tweet alongside a quote from her from 2000. She said “I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” Rather than getting angry with Clinton for changing her mind over the span of 15 years, can’t we appreciate that this woman’s thinking has evolved since the early 2000’s? Has no one else changed their mind in 15 years?
Fifteen years ago I was five and wanted to run an ice cream shop when I grew up. I am now a computer scientist. Things change. And change is good.
On to another example. I recently saw a post on Facebook about PTSD awareness day. The writer began his post with “Most people probably have no idea what today is.. mostly because the media doesn’t care to share it and everyone is too focused on the fact that gay people can get married in all 50 states…” What? Is America not allowed to celebrate gay rights because it is also PTSD Awareness Day? Are these two events mutually exclusive? Am I missing something?
This post immediately pushed me away, only to ultimately find out that it was for a good cause. The first sentence could have just as easily been excluded and it would not offend anyone or portray negativity. The writer was indeed correct, I was unaware of the significance of June 27th. Still, the media coverage of gay marriage is important.
With my final example I want to be clear that there is a strong difference between constructive criticism and negativity or destructive criticism.
My previous post about the NYS prison system obviously spiked up some negative comments both on Facebook and the post itself. I respect people who have a different view and am willing to hear them out. What I do not respect is people who state I am uneducated rather than “I see your point, here is mine…”.
Criticism is vital to the growth of our society. Unbiased, educated, and helpful criticism. Be sure to recognize the difference between criticism and negativity.
Unbiased: Do not criticize because you have a personal vendetta against someone.
Educated: Understand the situation. A person I work with heard about the NYS prison article and challenged me that the only reason recidivism rate is low for convicted murderers is because they are all in prison for life and do not get released. Clearly this person was not well-educated in this matter and so the criticism bares no real value.
Helpful: Criticism that attacks a person is not helpful. Telling me I am uneducated or that I need to “understand the realities of the world we live in” is not helpful. Give me real hard data that shows me that I am misled and what the facts really are.
But I digress…
Whether you are criticizing someone or are simply writing your own personal beliefs on a situation, try to stay on the positive side of things. Legalizing gay marriage is wonderful. PTSD is an awful mental illness that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention. All voting citizens should know what each candidate stands for and this should not be overly diluted with negative campaigns.
Whether you are liberal or conservative, catholic or atheist, white or black, gay or straight, try not to criticize your opposite. Think about these opposites as neutralizers that make the world more interesting rather than opponents that you need to fight against every day. Our vision is constantly blurred by the negative things we read and listen to day-to-day. I would much rather choose which sides I am on by the positives.
Individually we may not be able to change the media. Even as a whole this is a difficult challenge. We need to get news from somewhere and very rarely can we find unbiased sources. What we can change is what we post and share on social media. Positive posts do exist. Choose these over the negative ones. An argument loses so much value in my eyes and I’m sure the eyes of many others when it is based around insulting someone or something else. Stand up for what you believe in and take a stand. But remember to do this by showing support for your cause and arguing why others should support your cause.
I challenge everyone, including myself (I am also a culprit of this) to try to develop our arguments in a positive way. If you truly believe in what you are debating, there should be no problem at all in developing a strong, solid argument without attacking other people. If you cannot do this then it may be a good time to reconsider what the facts are and where your personal beliefs reside.