Social Media and Negativity

Posted April 2, 2013 by Amanda Shofner in Musings. Disregard unless interesting. / 12 Comments

Hi. My name is Amanda, and I am a recovering negativity addict. Maybe you can relate.

You see, negativity really is an addiction. It becomes what we seek out and what we spread. Our entire thought process turns and changes to satisfy the hole that a negativity addiction creates. Negativity is not and never will be fulfilling.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a negative person. Life never went my way. Life existed solely to shit on me. My life and I sucked. We didn’t live up to my expectations. Sound familiar?

In 2006, I met my boyfriend. He is not a negativity addict. Being with him challenged my negative mindset, because he began to challenge my negativity. In turn, I began to open my eyes to negativity and its effects on me. In 2009, I began grad school, where I learned how people code their thoughts and opinions into everything they say. I learned that I’m not the only negativity addict. I learned that many people probably don’t even realize what they are doing.

When I joined social media, it was easy to see how our social networks fuel our negativity addiction. We see other people succeeding where we have not. We have a platform for our complaints to be seen and heard. We have people who justify our feelings. I get that. But the longer I’m on social media, the more I realize that updates steeped in negativity affect everyone.

The defining moment for me was signing onto Twitter one morning. The first tweet to greet me was a complaint about the person’s work. It had nothing to do with me, but it dragged me down. It dragged me down so far that I spent the next few hours of my morning in a foul mood. And THAT is how we affect our followers. You spread what you update.

Whenever I get on social media, I have to school myself on how to update so I don’t unwittingly spread negativity. And that is hard. To show you how I approach updating, I want to share with you signs you may be a negativity addict and not even know it. Each of these signs represents how I monitor my updates and my mindset.

1. The majority of your updates are complaints

No, really. Go look at your public updates and count how many complaints you have. You might be surprised how many there are. If I do complain about something, I usually try to make fun of myself in a way that invites people to laugh at me. I’d rather spread laughter.

2. You get upset when no one responds to you

My way around this? I assume no one will respond. If someone does, I am delighted and respond in kind. Simply posting something does not entitle us to a response, no matter how many followers we have.

3. You constantly compare yourself to others or your compliments to other people involve putting yourself down

“You’re so organized! I suck at organizing.” This leaves the person trying to console you rather than thanking you for the compliment, which makes both of you feel bad.

4. Drama is impossible for you to resist

Whenever drama happens, you have an opinion and you make sure your followers know what it is. You retweet what everyone else is saying. You write a post about it. What this boils down to one thing: you’re spreading the negativity. When the drama blows up my Twitter feed, I log off. It doesn’t matter if I agree with what is being said. It doesn’t matter if I have an opinion. I walk away.

We all have bad days. Everyone is allowed to be negative–on occasion. Sometimes you need to vent. Venting is healthy, in fact. But when you can’t let go of a negative situation, that is when it’s time to reassess. Your absence or silence should not make people happy: they should miss you. Don’t let social media and negativity slow your influence.

If you’re not spreading positivity, what are you spreading?

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12 responses to “Social Media and Negativity

  1. Chris

    Wow! It was so much fun to read about you giving Kyle credit for not being a negativity addict, identifying it in yourself, and beginning your journey into not being a negativity addict. It is so rare for someone to to give credit to another, and I love that about you!

    You must be doing a very good job with yourself, because negativity would never be in any of my descriptions of you! I always picture you with a lovely smile and kind words.

    I am going to try to be more aware of my negativity, and work on improving me.

    Thanks!

    • Sometimes breaking bad habits–whatever they may be–needs outside help first. Without Kyle to challenge me, I would have continued to steep (for lack of a better word) in my negative mindset.

      At the end of my undergrad career, I read book called The Epictetus Club for one of my classes. To date, it has one of the most valuable anti-negativity lessons I’ve ever received. It goes like this: everything in life can be separated into two categories. What you can control and what you can’t control. If you’re unhappy with what you can control, change it. If you’re unhappy with what you can’t control, learn to think about it in a different way (accept it).

      Kyle often keeps me on track with that. 🙂

  2. This is a fantastic fantastic post! It bodes well when social media can quick turn into a venting machine. I’d much rather celebrate and spread around other awesome things people are doing than my own negativity.

    That being said, I’m going to agree with the previous response. You’ve always come across as one of the sweetest, most giving people I’ve met online 😀

    • I always try to put my best foot forward both online and in real life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve drafted a tweet only to delete it. Or how many times I’ve written a ranty post only to let it wither in my drafts. In the end, I decide that spreading my negativity isn’t what the world needs, no matter how upset I am. I usually find a way to vent privately and move on.

      If we’re being honest, though, I’m sure that many of my early tweets were filled with complaints. The longer I’m on social media, the more I try to uplift everyone else. Usually making someone else smile is enough to get me to do the same, which is perfect for snapping out of a bad mood.

  3. I love this post. Number 3 is amazing, definitely need to bear that in mind because I think I do that one a lot. Lots to think about here, thank you! 🙂

    • Comparing ourselves to others is a part of human nature, I think. We do gain some of our identity by comparing ourselves to others. (Kind of in the way that we need opposites–what is good if you don’t have bad?) But it can very easily turn negative.

  4. I always try to think of it like this: if I were to die tomorrow, would I want my family to have a feed full of complaints to remember me by? Yeah, it’s a little morbid, but I also know people would be looking at them. I used to be an incredibly negative person, but I’ve been trying to overcome that. I still have bad days, but I like to ask myself if this or that is really worth all the negative thoughts and energy. I don’t want to make the people around me feel bad and I certainly don’t want to make people I’ve never even met feel bad.

    • A bit morbid, maybe, but you’ve got the right idea. It’s all about being aware of what you’re saying and how it looks to others. I routinely look at my own Twitter timeline or Facebook wall just to see what I’ve said.

      I think we all have bad days. I know I’ve had my fair share. But you’re so right, Jasmine. We have to pick our battles about what we get upset about. Sometimes it’s just not worth the negativity.

  5. Lovely post, Amanda. I agree with everything that you say – we often don’t notice how negative we are. I feel like I mostly ping-pong between negative and positive, and I’m learning not to tweet when I’m feeling down. Like you, I try to stay away from all of the drama.

    There is already so much in this world to worry about, and social media shouldn’t add to the worries (:

    • Exactly. I find that social media tends to make bad problems worse. I have my times of feeling down–just like everyone does on occasion–but I don’t talk about it on social media. I see so much complaining and whining on social media that I’d rather not add to it. (In fact, I even unfollow people who seem to do nothing but complain.)