When I was younger there was no internet and therefore as much as I might have missed out on the fun of being able to ‘Google’ , ‘Facebook’, ‘you tube’ etc, I was also not exposed to a lot of other minutia of everyday life. Now we are bombarded with constant scrolls of celebrity movements, cats and other cute animals, diets and inspirational slogans which I am not convinced is helpful at all.
Prior to the advent of the internet and the proliferation of technology, we had to learn things for ourselves and find our own meaning in things. You were allowed to form your own opinions, and allowed to change them when you felt it was appropriate. Am I suggesting that technology is bad? Absolutely not! I AM suggesting that it is being misused and relied upon to do the thinking for us.
I LOVE technology. I worked in I.T. for over 20 years. I am just not convinced that constant messages of celebrity, diets, commercials and what I call ‘positivity porn’ is a proper use of its potential. Positivity porn is a well known and accepted label for all these messages of “You only get one life… Be the best there is… You aren’t good enough unless you are going hard… don’t give up… Only the weak break… You are a beautiful moth about to turn into a butterfly…” ilk. They are constantly doing the rounds and I have even seen the same one 10 times in one day from various different sources. But why are we so obsessed with them?
If we have a sick friend, why are we bombarding them with these messages? Is it possible that we think that it might help ‘cure them’ of their illness? If these constant messages where indeed helpful then why is there so much pain, suffering, depression, suicide, financial hardship, fighting, destruction, isolation in the world? Surely all these positive pictures of sunrises would have ‘cured’ all that by now! It my personal opinion that it doesn’t BECAUSE of the constant bombardment, it has become like so much refuse and human waste left lying on the shore. No longer having meaning or use any more.
I remember a time, after a particularly bad break up, my mother sat with me while I tried to process things and make sense of it all. The silence was deafening. I said to her that I would like to go to work even though I hadn’t slept at all for days, and she just said. “I am proud of you kid. You are doing the best you can, and that is all you can do.” She got up and made a cup of tea. As she passed by she put her hand on my shoulder and that was enough for me to get on with the day ahead. Less was more. Nothing can replace the human contact and sincerity when we need it the most. Not even a pretty picture of a moth or a kitten. We are human and we will always need empathy. We will always need love. We will always need connection to our loved ones and ourselves. No amount of positivity porn will replace this very human of needs.
The other thing I have a visceral reaction to is they way it subliminally perpetuates patient blaming i.e. You are sick because of your negative thinking, You could be better if your thinking was better, read this little slogan and stop thinking about your needs, you have no right to negative feelings because this slogan says so… Don’t get me wrong, I think a well timed and needed word of encouragement and understanding is vital for anyone, no matter what they are going through, but denial and downplaying someone in their moment of need is incredibly useless and harmful. This is purely my opinion.
Life is meant to come with a vast array of emotions. Some are painful, harsh, uncomfortable and difficult. We aren’t meant to ONLY feel the good ones and run around high on positivity and inspiration all the time. If we don’t allow ourselves to go through and experience all the stages of grief and all the range of emotions we become half a human experience. Almost unreal. Although I don’t think its healthy to dwell in any particular emotion for long (i.e. sadness and futility) neither is dwelling in perpetual highs of emotion. It can be just as harmful. The trick to life has always been, and in my opinion, always will be balance.
Feel the pain but don’t dwell in it. Feel loss but don’t live there. Feel happy when you can. Remember some things in life are hard and some things are breathtakingly beautiful. Some people will break your heart and some people (sometimes the people you least expect) will show up and refill our hearts with the love we thought we lost. That’s what has been happening for centuries before all this positivity porn because that really is the true human experience.
I can remember reading years ago something that stuck with me and resonated “If you always HAVE to be happy, you will always be disappointed”