How the Push for More Negativity Has the Opposite Effect

The state of current affairs is pretty intense, to put it mildly. Conversations, social media, politics, and the news are all intensely set on the new seemingly daily stresses of our everyday lives. It’s the topics of choice that everyone talks about everywhere you go. It’s near impossible to get away.

In response, we become more deeply entrenched in our positions with the ever-growing energy and passion to voice our opinions. We allow these thoughts to take over and occupy our every waking moment. Additionally, everything we do and say somehow automatically brings thoughts of stress and said position.

The nasty side-effect becomes more stress, anxiety, and possibly depression. We risk severing close ties and friendships as well as damaging family relationships. If only they would see my side of the issue, we think to ourselves.


Humans have long had the desire and motivation to be or to become informed. Knowledge is power and as hunter/gatherers knowledge meant survival. If we were hiking through a mountainous area hunting for food over a few weeks it would behoove us to be knowledgeable about weather patterns, terrain, and dangerous wildlife along the way.

Fast forward to today and it bears little explanation that we’ve pretty much conquered the databases of information. With literally nearly everything available at our fingertips we’ve moved way passed the need for seeking the latest, all too important knowledge for survival.

But here’s the crux. We still have that insatiable desire to be in the know. We want to be the first to know something and technology has become our new drug to “fulfill” that need. Now, I use quotations because it’s not really an essential need to be fulfilled these days.

We are duping ourselves in believing that we need to drink from this proverbial fire hose. Whether it’s social media, the news, or seeking the latest from a friend, we are addicted.

The FOMO is real.

The forgotten reality

Now, I’m not suggesting that we ram our heads in the sand and tattoo “ignorance is bliss” across our foreheads. But a media/information diet is in order.

We all know what we need to do, but the how is a bit trickier. Cutting off sources is a start. Delete news and social apps from your phone, set specific times and trusted resources for news, avoid too many heated debates with friends and family.

The fact is that it’s unrealistic to keep up this pace for long. We will get stressed, exhausted, and eventually start having some serious repercussions. We start to romanticize how life used to be. How we used to talk of movies, the latest game, or our kids. Those were the good ole days.

One thing that has worked for me is a bit counter-intuitive. I adapt the same strategies I use while dieting to help manage the stress of all this stuff we’re drowning in.

When I am tempted by my sweet tooth or to have just one more serving of something I think about how I will feel if I bypass that desire. After passing up that temptation will I be proud of myself and have a real sense of self-control?

The same can be applied to conversations about polarizing current events. I observe, give respect to others, and then when the desire to speak my mind comes up like a potential volcanic eruption I can think about how I’ll feel afterwards. Will I feel proud of myself by getting into a heated debate, or should I just listen and move on?

The answers is obvious.

It would behoove us to think about the big picture. Will we make any real change in someone else if we talk their head off about our position?

My wife has always said, you can’t change other’s minds. This is ever so true right now. But the more I am pushed to chime in (negativity included) the more I want to mind my own business, bite my tongue, and go on with my day. The more I want to rise above the noise.

Of course I’m not perfect and am a work in progress, but if I do happen to get into a conversation and it starts to go south I instantly regret going down that road. I could potentially strain friendships without intending to do so. I always feel much better when I’m the figurative fly on the wall and focus on whatever other important task is at hand.

Rise above.

How about you? Do you regret some of the conversations you’ve had with others lately?


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