I see it all around me, and apparently I am not alone. I am constantly hearing about someone else who decided to cut themselves off from the social media that had become a part of their daily lives.
The Negativity Bias
These people who have removed themselves from their social media sites voice varying concerns:
- Negativity from friends or family--“Politics have become so divisive and family members are now yelling at each other! They see someone else’s comment, even a comment that was meant to be a big nothing…even just a thumbs up…and they write things that are horrible. Would they ever say those things to my face? I just don’t want to see it anymore; it’s making me physically ill!”
- Pictures of tragedies from around the world–“Look at these stories on the news! Those poor people. They were just at a music concert (a family gathering; an athletic event: a street fair). Every time you turn around, it seems there’s been another tragedy!”
- Allowing election interference by ad placement—“I am not going to support a website that decided to let election of America’s leadership be swayed just because they could earn more money from their untrue ads! What is happening to our country, and where are we headed?”
While these people certainly have valid concerns, and no one is suggesting that we simply accept what is felt to be wrong or unjust, there are ways to express opinions without attacking, name-calling, belittling, mocking, or simply being rude. We have some fabulous role models who have shown us, and encouraged us, to speak up, consistently vote, and work toward making the changes we want to see.
But another consideration is the negativity that seems to be coming at us from all directions. There must be a balance between staying current with daily national and international news, while also making sure we notice and appreciate the positives in the world around us; we cannot just be listening to the negatives.
Rick Hansen, psychologist and author, has written extensively about the negativity bias of the brain. He tells us that, as man evolved, it was essential that he learned from negative experiences to avoid repeating mistakes; therefore, the instances were not only remembered as events, themselves, but were also held onto as emotional experiences. However, positive occurrences typically flow through he brain almost like water through a sieve; they come, and, just as quickly, they go.
Looking for the Positives
The challenge is for us to make it a habit to notice and appreciate the good around us. Taking the time to do so will result in increased levels of self-worth, greater happiness, feelings of peace with yourself and those around you, and more love within your life experience.
So now might be a time to reevaluate the thoughts that float through your mind. Do you tend to focus on the negatives, or do you need to add a consistent practice that requires you to notice the positives in your world?
Look for the positives; you will be surprised at the difference in how you view your world.