Online Positivity Is A Virus

“Be true to yourself and surround yourself with positive and supportive people” “A positive atmosphere nurtures a positive attitude, which is required to take positive action”

Makes you feel sick when you read that – it’s even worse when a nobody writes it on Twitter to somehow goad you in to thinking “oh yes, up until this point of my day I was going to end it but now that this random vlogger from 3000 miles away has rehashed someone else’s words, I feel compelled to do better with my life”

Being positive all the time about everything seems to be the flavour of creation, and creators all around social media and are always pushing the positive vibes about work, gear, inclusion, travel, people, and the likes; even starting a new channel and that’s fair enough.  But when does positivity become detrimental?  Counterproductive to your brand or niche?  When is it fake and more damaging than negativity?

I should probably qualify all this with a reason, and I felt it was a topic that I wanted to discuss because social media is powerful platform, but only if it’s used correctly.  A lot of content is unnecessary or just for fun, an extension of someone’s ego, a look at their life, work, family…. there are a multitude of reasons people would make videos and post online, mainly escapism, for the viewer and the creator.  You can learn so much from content creators as they pass skills and knowledge to others, ensuring there are more people taking up the mantle of that interest and pursuing their own hobby or career and that’s great!  I heartily support that.  

The main topic here that I was aiming for is that it’s ok to be negative and you can dress that word up in any way that’s easier to swallow…critique is a great example of explaining how someone can do better whilst not trampling all over their work or decisions.  I watch YouTube, I love finding new things or continuing the journey with a creator who has a story to tell, but sometimes I see videos that just ooze with self-righteous, unadulterated rubbish and there is no substance, need or value in it for me.  Now, I’m aware that “I’m not everybody” and there are those who have a different view and that’s fine.  You’re fine.  You’re allowed to do that.  But let me contextualise it on terms of social media.  

If I watch a video by someone who has advertised themselves as photographer and I don’t think they are a particularly good one, but 83,000 subscribers suggest otherwise, it makes me, in today’s eyes, a troll, jealous or whatever means the masses would dub me if I left a negative comment.  Similarly, if the creator had 50 subscribers, you would seem little harsh for point blank pointing out that they are shit!  The difference there is that the second example, YOU can help them grow by using the “critique” style approach.  The first example, you have NO control over as they have made their audience and use that as a shield against negative comments.

I want to call them out though; I want to say, “you’re not fooling me” and while you may have fleeced the people who go on your “workshops” and they feel rewarded from your experience, I feel sorry for them that they haven’t reviewed their decision a little more.  But’s it’s not just them…the whole digital world is alive with pedlars of nonsense but it is always met with an advocate of the topic; someone who appears as their saviour, knight in shining armour that will say “no” and stick their fingers in their ears and la, la, la, la, la…their way through any cohesive conversation, not because they are versed in what they defend but because they are sheep to the cause.

So, the negativity, why is it not more prevalent in content creation?  I don’t know, but I really want more of it.  Rather than being bound by products or views or what people might think of the truth behind their rose-tinted spectacles, I’d rather have content that is brutally honest.  Curb the culture of social media masks and reveal the true you.  When you ask someone who claims to be a film buff “what’s your favourite movie?” and they give you a blustered barrage of words about Citizen Kane or the Godfather about narrative and cinematography, you roll your eyes because you know their real answer was Weekend at Bernie’s, because they seem to think the former will show them as something they aspire to be or hope you will think about them, when in actual fact the latter promotes their disingenuous chat – not that “Weekend at Bernie’s” should cause any such offence as it is a fine film with the 80’s comedy genre. 

Much can be said about aspiring creators who have watched a favourite creator and decided they want to be “just like them” and naturally as they progress, they realise that they can’t be or do the things they did, because that’s not who they are, and they must find their own path. And what started out as a gear review channel suddenly becomes basket weaving and quilting; because it’s who they are, what they are passionate about, and the genuine character comes through; that’s what everyone wants to see. 

Now, here comes the science and feel free to fact check it, I heartily recommend it, because I’m not a scientist.  But I do research though; I have an idea, I research it, I write it out, I shape it then record it….and here we are.  But then, nothing I’ve said is untrue, or speculated, it is my opinion but based on facts, even the earlier section where I said about self-righteous, unadulterated rubbish….that exists and you can probably think of content creators who fit that bill, I just won’t say who I THINK FITS THAT BILL because that’s slander, however true it is and I hope that others will see through the masquerade for what it is;  as there are those who sell themselves on the premise of “stuff” and “places” and when you take that away you are left with harsh realities of life that we all live with and just don’t add tinsel for the sake of the internet and a few gullible followers…..I have been blocked on Twitter by some for saying that exact type of thing though – but that is because it was a little too close to the truth for them and like I said, they won’t take ANY negativity in fear of being found out – but I would also be happy in making a xpose where I name a “TOP 10 of insincere bro-togs” in the name of science and anthropological study – let me know what you think.

Attempts to suppress feelings such as anger or sadness can reduce our sense of contentment, despite society’s bias towards positive thinking – which can result in people feeling embarrassed about negative emotions – being constantly upbeat carries its own risks.  

  • First, suppressing thoughts means we cannot accurately evaluate life’s experiences. If we don’t allow ourselves the lows, then the satisfaction from the highs becomes lessened. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment. 
  • Secondly, negative emotions are likely to be important for our survival. The negativity associated with a health issue, or a relationship, or work, makes it clear to us that there is a problem. It alerts us to the things that need attention and that we need to change. Simply put: “The survival value of negative thoughts and emotions may help explain why suppressing them is so fruitless.” 
  • Finally, the act of suppressing thoughts and feelings can be bad for our physical health and cause stress. A Florida State University study showed that those who suppress emotions experience greater stress when confronted with the topic causing their negative thoughts; so, science facts there, just in case it was deemed I made that up in some sort of attempt to be motivational, but true none the less.

Accepting negative thoughts and emotions can lead to greater clarity and understanding of our life, and several strategies to help us accept negative emotions, suggesting you should “acknowledge how you are feeling without rushing to change your emotional state”. From mindfulness to writing a journal, a shift in perspective and learning to tolerate strong emotions could help us. 

Ultimately, we must accept the rough to make the smooth that much better.  But how does that relate to online creators or “influencers” – read that word through gritted teeth and it will have the impact and literal disgust I have for that term.

But many creators online have enjoyed great success in their channels because they are true to themselves and want to engage with something and with someone and as the channel grows, so does the effort and input.  However, I feel a lot grow past their humble beginnings and start to change to suit their creative climb; inadvertently (or on purpose) becoming less likeable but still with decent content.  But inevitably, the content will also drop off and, my whole point in this, I will move on but there are many, like a cult who will hold on to the dream that once was…a new generation that will see the newer, less interesting as the normal and what they know.  Take the Star Wars saga for instance, or comic book fans; those of us who grew up with them and see them for the child like innocence of make believe, to those who take up a mantle of hate against anyone who say anything negative about the prequels or the newer sequels.  To the fans of original comics that have been adapted by film and those who think their lives have been ruined by the change…. they didn’t come in from the timeless beginning but have joined in on the wave of new success but will defend to the death anyone who thinks anything other than their opinion.  It’s quite sad really, that entertainment should become so visceral, but it happens, and YouTube is no different; I hate seeing videos with a disingenuous personality, creating content for their own gain with nothing valuable to give, with hordes of followers who seem to think they are richer for the experience, when in fact, they may have just become more stupid because of it.  

On balance, there are so many great contributors that have engagement, intellect, skills, personality but have yet to be discovered, but is it that anonymity that makes them great?  Is it the underground band that is awesome till they make their first big album?  The director that gets the big budget and loses his appeal because of it.  It’s a fine line but on a similar note, there are great examples through history of people who risen to great heights and kept themselves grounded and it is THIS that I hope to advocate in this piece.

What was my point in all of this?  Well, it was just an opportunity for me to speak my mind on something that was bothering me, that you shouldn’t take what you hear, read in the first or third person as fact until you do your own research.  I’m not suggesting everyone should be cynical about everything, but certainly don’t be media sheep unless what you’re being told will be validated somehow with proof or fact…the click-baters are bad for that and all those videos that have “top 10 reasons…” when did they become the authority on it: beware of plagiarism.  It’s very easy to copy an authoritative creator on a subject, rehash the facts and claim them to be your understanding of it.  

I am a cynic, things annoy me and I have an opinion on life and want to be able to incorporate it because I feel it adds value if I’m honest; granted it’s my opinion and that’s that, some will agree and some will not, but that doesn’t make what I raise, any less valid.  It’s an opportunity to discuss and engage.  The creators who tell you everything is awesome, that your destiny is achievable with hard work…etc. Add in any cliche you want and while it is nice to be positive, you must be realistic and that not everyone is the same. 

We all may have been dealt the same cards but the gamble in life is very much a choice of the player.  By all means, work hard and strive for greatness, believe in those dreams but as I say a lot in my day to day life…”expect the best, prepare for the worst but capitalise on whatever may come”  I’ve been round the block a few times and I’m not a one-wheel riding, care-free, travel when I want to, Instagram follower-seeking, wannabe photographer/filmmaker, gear junkie with a need for brand deals and free everything to spout an opinion based on the very audience numbers that society states you should secure as validation for somehow being of any worth – I’m not that shallow and these people are no better than the folks who used to post on Facebook things like “Today isn’t a great day” with no context, because they want you to engage and ask what’s wrong – they need constant validation.

So, if disingenuous folks online or on TV, talk shit, then I feel it only too pertinent to call them out on it, as it does nothing but intensify the fake lifestyles that so many want the world to see them for.  If it’s genuinely inspiring and fun, then similarly…they should be praised and rewarded for that.  Don’t allow the culture to make you feel you CAN’T say anything; that can be just as bad as saying the wrong things and if you are concerned about your brand, name or how you’ll be perceived – then just make sure what you’re saying is factually correct – Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but not his/her own facts. Wisdom is making your own decisions – ignorance follows public opinion.

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