Here at TTF HQ, our ultimate goal has always been to create an optimistic community in which positivity would thrive. We’ve always preferred the sunnier slices of life so why not create an idealistic online space where optimizing optimism would be celebrated? If you’re looking for snarky clickbait, there’s definitely no shortage of that nowadays. If you want “juicy” takedowns, that probably will be on the front page of any other website that you can find.
Why so negative?
Let’s bottom line this: Negativity, grouchiness, sarcasm etc gets more immediate attention/clicks which bring in more money at the end of the day. I don’t necessarily blame the media for this. The internet is an extremely competitive landscape nowadays, so in an attempt to stay relevant, even the most reputable news sources have given into the snark.
Variety movie critic, Owen Gleiberman, in his debut article, wrote a killer take-down of Renee Zellweger titled: “Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself Has She Become a Different Actress?” While many rushed to Renee Zellweger’s defense, most people merely marveled at the possibility that her appearance may or may not have changed. At the end of the day, controversial or not, that article became the most talked-about piece that Variety put out in the entire quarter. While it’s true that some people may have simply checked out that article on account of the curiosity factor, the reality is that going negative sells.
But why does “going negative” sell?
You would think that people want to hear and read about positive things. Do audiences want constant reminders that the world sucks? Or that someone is in a major slump or has gained a bunch of weight? Surprisingly, the answer to both of those questions is yes and yes. Being able to see that other people are doing worse than you helps put your problems into perspective. It’s human nature to compare yourself to others, so when someone is being publicly called out for being a failure, you can’t help but be grateful that isn’t you. In turn, you temporarily feel better about your life and yourself because “things could always be worse.”
Our human brains are trained to focus on negative experiences in order to survive. For example, when I was 7, I had a genius idea to throw ice cubes into my scrambled eggs in order to make them crunchy (don’t ask). Rather than chastising me and making me follow an exact recipe, my mom let me try it so that I could see what would happen. It was a flop and I’ll never forget how horrible they tasted. Children are taught to make mistakes in order to learn from them.
In addition, our long-term memories are trained to store negative memories much more easily than positive ones so that we can recognize threats of future negative experiences occurring again. As a result, most people during an average week experience many more positive experiences but it’s the negative ones that we can’t let go of.
For example, let’s say you post a photo of yourself on Facebook and 25 people tell you how beautiful you look. But then you hear about one person (who’s not a friend) saying that you look fat in that particular photo. On one unbiased hand, that comment makes sense. Beauty is something that is 100% subjective, so when 25 out of 26 people truly think that you look amazing, that’s pretty good. But on the other, what you are going to remember when you look back at that photo years down the line? If that were me, I would remember that blind idiot who said I was fat.
I’m just keeping it real
Negativity and constructive criticism are not the same things. There’s a huge difference between being “real” versus being a hater. When you’re real, you’re not sugar-coating the truth. You’re saying what needs to be said because at the end of the day, the receiver will benefit from hearing your honest opinion.
When you’re a hater, you’re likely not even saying anything to the person’s face. When you’re talking about someone behind their back, you’re not benefiting either of you. In particular, you’re only hurting yourself. While the person that you’re trashing is likely oblivious to your negative thoughts and opinions, you’re letting your personal negative feelings run rampant. Doing so can take a toll on your self-esteem and reveal your insecurities. When you’re dependent on putting other people down in order to feel good about yourself, that means you’re not secure enough in yourself to be happy. So at the end of the day, who’s the bigger loser?
People often use “being real” as a blanket excuse to be rude. When someone is real, they have an opinion and own it. Owning it means that you’re not scared of someone’s immediate reaction and that you can stand by your convictions. The next time you have a possibly unpopular opinion that you want to put out there, just ask yourself this first: Is it necessary that I express myself? Can what I’m saying be of any value to society? If you can say no to both of those questions, then it’s probably best that you zip it.
Can’t we all just get along?
The saddest part about trash talking others in order to feel good about yourself is that you’re impeding your own goals. The main reason that people make fun of others is that they want to feel like they’re better than other people. By being “better” than someone else, you’re in turn improving your social standing. But in order to be truly happy, you want to have a connection with others. People who have high self-esteem often feel accepted. Acceptance from a group occurs when they deem you to be an equal peer. But when someone thinks that you’re better than they are, it’s difficult for them to let you in.
When you’re kind to others, you’re kind to yourself. You end up optimizing optimism. Think about it, let’s say you see someone on Facebook announce that they got a new job. The old you would be shocked because in that class you took together, they seemed like a total idiot and that exact company wouldn’t even give you an onsite interview. But the truth is, you don’t know what hard work went into getting that job.
Try writing them a friendly congratulatory note and mean it. When they receive it, they’ll be surprised and it will be icing on the cake for their professional victory. For you, dropping off that note will be symbolically letting go of any negative emotions you have towards the situation that’s been holding you back.
Have you ever been a perpetrator of being a hater? Do you know anyone that hides behind the mask of “being real” in order to be horrible? Let’s discuss optimizing optimism in the comments below! If all else fails, just think happy thoughts!