The world can be a pretty negative place, that’s for sure. While I notice it in the paranormal community, the truth is that it is out there everywhere. It isn’t unique to the paranormal. Heck – there’s a whole bulletin board devoted to trolling and negativity (the infamous /b/ board at 4chan). It’s pretty easy to hide behind an avatar and a bad attitude where you don’t have to look into the eyes of another and see the hurt you may be causing with your words and actions.
And yet, it’s easy to get swept up in the negativity. The minute someone behaves like a total douchebag, I can fully understand the instinct to go into full-on defensive mode. Especially when you notice that others agree with your assessment of the situation – the temptation is there to join up like a gang of playground bullies who band together to pick on the offensive turd who set you off in the first place. There are a few times when I’ve had to pull myself back from the almost overwhelming desire to join the mob with my own pitchfork and torch to chase down a monster.
If it stayed on the Internet, that would be one thing. After all, we all have our choice of the material we look at when we surf the Net. In most forums, if we don’t like a troll we can ignore them. We can choose not to read blogs by people we find offensive. We can choose not to engage in flame wars. We can walk away with the click of a browser button.
The problem that I see is that the trolling and negativity seems to be seeping over into real life. It’s not staying on the interwebz. Maybe it’s just that I’m an adult now and not under the protection of my rather sunny and naive view of the world any longer, but it seems like real-world encounters with hostile jerks are becoming more common. In the past year, I’ve witnessed people screaming at others with no provocation, people hideously mistreating the poor unfortunate saps who are forced to serve them in the course of their jobs, and some of the most vicious backstabbing behaviors I have ever encountered. I personally have been screamed at in a failed attempt at bullying and intimidation, had lies spread about me, and had to step away from people I thought were my friends because of constant negativity and attacking behaviors. It makes it tough for a girl to keep her rose-colored glasses perched firmly on her nose.
I don’t remember that the world was always this unkind. Or maybe I was better at ignoring it and avoiding the negative people out there. It’s hard to know. It is also discouraging. After all, I’m raising a teen-ager who will soon become an adult in a world that seems to be peopled with an awful lot of individuals who have somehow checked their humanity at the door. Or maybe it is just that the planet has gotten smaller with the advent of the Internet, and that we are now in communication with people we would never have met in days gone by.
Whatever the reason, here’s the one thing I do know. I have zero control over all of the negativity that exists in the world. I can’t control the trolls, the douches and the a-pipes. I have no control over what is said on the Internet, and I have no control over how others behave or treat anyone else (including me). There is only one thing in this universe that I control, and that is myself. Therefore, in my world it is entirely up to me to eliminate the negativity.
How? By not participating. By walking away. By trying to do what I learned as a child – treat others the way that I’d like to be treated. I can step away from relationships that are negative. I can not take my bad day out on other people. And when other people decide to take their bad days out on me, I can decide whether or not I let it affect me.
It’s the only thing I can come up with, this humble plan of mine. I can only combat negativity in my own life, in my own attitude and in my own interactions with other people. What everyone else chooses to do is up to them.
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