Sunday, July 27, 2014

What is Negativity?

Original image property of Jocelyn Wardle

The other day I watched that awful Nash Grier video on Youtube. Well, I watched both the girls one and the HIV Vine. As I did something struck a chord with me, that was my definition of negativity.

I don't believe that negativity is calling someone out on being a horrible person or expressing a harmful viewpoint. I believe negativity is one) perpetuating those attitudes, and two) allowing those attitudes to slide.

Think about it, letting a negative attitude which has been proven to systematically HURT people (i.e. sexism or homophobia) creates much more negative energy and harm in the world than stepping up and telling a person off for spewing the crap they've had fed into them by media propaganda.

How? It get's others down, and often without them even knowing why. There are so many different messages laced throughout our interpretation of reality: They come from media advertisements, other people, our parents. It's bloody easy to get confused, sidetracked, pushed onto a path that is less-than ideal for us and how our brain works.

Chuck Palahniuk once wrote, 'I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.' - Thing is, now, in our hyper-connected world, we're not only the combined effort of everyone we've ever met, but half the time we're the combined effort of them, their best friend, parents, favourite author, etc. People that maybe even they've never met.

I once wrote about this idea in a post titled 'The Sphere of Influence' - an idea philosopher Roman Krznaric has also talked about in his lectures and writings.

The 'sphere of influence' is a term usually associated with big businesses or entire countries (I'm looking at you USA) however I think it also applies to people; as a collective and a singular - especially in todays hyper-connected world.
Your 'sphere of influence' includes the people you associate with; i.e. friends, family, facebook acquaintances, the guy you always see on the train home from work, and others. If you are a blogger, CEO, youtube personality, teacher, politician, celebrity, or someone who just tweets a hell of a lot your personal sphere of influence will naturally expand to include more and more people.
And, not to reference myself too much, I also made a video discussing the fact that, when I ask a person 'what do you want to do' I'm not asking them what job they want, I'm asking them 'what is the effect you want to create in the rooms you leave behind.' And, by extension, what about the rooms you haven't even entered yet? What do you want the people around you to take from you and pass onto others? Love, happiness? I hope it's something fantastic. Who wouldn't want to pass on something euphoria-inducing?

That's part of creating less negativity in the world. How we present ourselves, the things we say and what we believe craft the world we live in.

Negativity is to choke someone else's growth. It's to induce attitudes which sit on the sidelines and egg anxieties on, encourage them and thus hurt the people struggling to throw them off. It's homophobia, sexism, and other now-institutionalized acts of harm.

Ain't no reason for it. It's much easier, and more rewarding, to be kind. To show people that they can be what they want to be, let their freak-flag fly, etc. You do you, get down wit' yo bad self. Look, let's face it, Beyonce has been talking about this for years. Go have a listen.

Xo, Ellen