Thinking Out Loud is my version of a discussion post and/or a place to just get things out of my head and off my chest. I have no plans for it to be a weekly feature, but more of a space that’s here when I have something to say.
#UseSocialMediaforGood and Positivity (or Lack Thereof) Online
Unless you were under a rock last night – or, you know, just not on Twitter – you probably saw a flurry of #UseSocialMediaforGood tweets. The brainchild of Jen Armentrout, this got to the very heart of something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about – and talking about with some friends – for the last few months.
I can’t handle all the negativity on social media these days.
It’s not just our little bookish world either. It’s everywhere, and it’s tiring.
It’s not realistic to expect people to be positive ALL THE TIME. We’re all busy and stretched thin. Bad things happen or we get frustrated. Venting is necessary from time to time. (Though I do have a sneaky feeling it doesn’t really help as much as we think it does.) But when people turn to social media to complain about EVERYTHING, it wears me out. Negativity is exhausting, y’all. It finds its way into every corner of your life if you’re not careful. It colors your view on everything and soon, instead of celebrating the little things that happen, we tend to look for the bad in every situation.
I could point out tons of examples of the way negativity is overwhelming me online, but that’s not the point of this post. I’m not trying to shame or finger point. If you’re at all active on social media, you undoubtedly know what I mean. I don’t think people even realize they’re guilty of it, either.
Taking it personal for a minute, a few years ago I was in a bad place. Things in my both my personal and work life were challenging. I wasn’t happy. I was working out and doing other things I love to release stress, so I thought I was managing things just fine. The problem was, I was still letting other people’s bad attitudes rub off on me. I relied on snark to get me through the day. I didn’t realize just how negative it was all coming off until an online acquaintance pointed it out to me. He wasn’t mean. He wasn’t judgmental. He simply challenged me to make my next ten tweets positive.
I’ll admit, at first I was a little angry. I mean, he didn’t really know me. He didn’t know what I was going through. Who was he to tell me I needed to change my attitude? The more I thought about it – and after looking back through some of my recent tweets – I realized he hit the nail on the head. If he could see it, everyone could. I was embarrassed. I’ve always been the kind of person who can find a bright spot in most situations and I hated that I’d let other people’s moods, and things I could personally change instead of simply deal with, influence so much of my life and attitude.
To this day, I am grateful to him. Just changing my focus for ten tweets made a HUGE difference in my overall attitude. I’m not talking about being passive aggressive here either (aka “I’m so happy to work with this jerkwad on this project. It’s gonna be awesome!”). I really took the time to think about what I tweeted before I hit send.
I still try to do that to this day.
Am I always positive online? No. No one can be positive ALL the time. But are there times when I open Twitter to be snarky about something, start typing and then realize I just don’t need to put that out in the world? Absolutely.
I was talking to one of my best friends about the (at times) overwhelming negativity on social media – and in face-to-face interactions, too – and he talked about the BOLD program and how he uses it to shape his own thinking. Now, BOLD is a training program the real estate agency he’s with uses to help their agents shape their mindsets to make a better impression and be more influential. (And I’m probably overly simplifying it.) After he told me more about it, I think some of the tenets of the program can just as easily be applied to this situation. A couple of my favorites:
What you focus on expands.
Complaining = garbage magnet
The basic gist, or how I’ve come to understand and apply it anyhow, is that when you change your focus, you change the outcome and your overall attitude. If you only focus on the negative, you see it in everything. If you start to look for the bright spot, you’ll be surprised how much happier you’ll feel overall. When you focus too much on finding the negative or complaining about it, it takes over and you miss the good things.
I loved Jen’s suggestion for taking one day to spread some love. It was so nice to see all the positive tweets flooding my timeline. I’ll take love over a snarky, sarcastic hate fest any day of the week. I loved all the inside jokes floating around and seeing people be so very kind to others. I enjoyed taking some time coming up with fun and thoughtful things to say about some of my favorite people… just as much as I loved the tweets directed at me. 🙂
Last night, #UseSocialMediaforGood trended nationwide and overseas on Twitter. The last time I’ve seen this much love and happiness on my Twitter timeline was when the gay marriage ruling came down last week. It doesn’t happen nearly enough. I’d like to see more of this in my life. It makes me smile and realize this bookish world is pretty damn great.
Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the negativity online sometimes?