2/22/2016

Is More Negativity What We Need?

Negativity is becoming so prevalent on social media these days, especially with the presidential election campaign in high gear and major issues at stake.  The volume of messages from all angles is staggering that contain downright cruel, condescending damning statements of other individuals that most know very little of and yet seem to feel it is well within their right to make deep seeded judgments about.  It is as if the masses become judges or Godlike with the ability to condemn others for sinning.

Messages are sent out on the digital media sites saying the poor that benefit from social welfare programs are fat and lazy.  Never have so many people who need help and are in dire straits due to no fault of their own been so harshly judged because of some that take advantage of the system.  Do these derogatory statements have any lasting effect on the people that read them that use these programs? Or, other messages being posted and circulated slamming people for their opposing viewpoints asking if people are morons for following so and so, etc?

There is a duality in our brain as to how we view the world, positive and negative.  This seems pretty simple but it is, like our bodies, pretty complex.  So many things shape our perception. Anthropologist Clause Levi-Strauss research and studies show, and many others confirm,  negativity always seems to win over positivity.  

Science steps into this equation too. Many researchers want to know how much of negative thoughts are influenced by the brain pathology. Ohio State conducted a study on the “negativity bias” of our brains.  They actually located a certain area of the brain that gets stimulated and found increased neural firing when negative images are viewed.  The end result of this type of knowledge gained from this study is there’s more information processing taking place on negative stimuli than positive inputs into the brain.

CNN, MSNBC, ABC and social media is abuzz with one thing in common: negativity. Thus, even if you switch to a positive channel or image, your brain is still hardwired for the negative for a time.  You are, in a sense, supercharged  with negativity. This is also true of all the negative messages on social media, they trigger your brain to stay in the negative mode.

The significance of this is not good for our society, our relationships and our health.   Much as, in years past, aggressive video games were found to be a link to violent behavior with children, subconsciously the same is true with adults and negative messaging centers in the brain. Science is uncovering that the major downside of negative messaging is it penetrates the way we think and act without us even being fully aware of it.

Step back and recall news programs in the past. Reporters came on and simply told the who, what, when, where and why. Thus, they were given the name “report-er.”  Today, these employees with the same title work for stations with a slant on the news, biased reporting and wanting to promote scandalous stories.  Accuracy is not nearly as big of an issue; a sense of decency towards anyone doesn’t matter as much as increased ratings.  Questions that are asked of people are unfathomable sometimes.  Tact is not important and someone without it gets more airtime than someone diplomatic because it sells.

On the political campaign, the slant is so obvious on news outlets that it almost feels like the media is deciding who voters should vote for based on their coverage, air time and their political pundits.  Is this how the country is supposed to work? Where is fair representation and putting forward positive messaging of issues and all candidates so America can learn about each? 

Many candidates are torn to shreds even before the election in voters' state has started.  This makes supporters feel like losers if the candidate is low in poll rankings they follow when the media and social messages start attacking him/her.  

Young people see the television coverage and the posts on social media. For many, this is the first time they will vote. Psychologists know early adulthood development has more difficulty with sound reasoning.  Influencing new voters with pounding negative messages is not a sound foundation for this young people or our country. They deserve better and so does our country.

The pervasiveness on social media and news fronts of hostility is alarming. Apparently it is fast becoming a feeding frenzy with an insatiable appetite developing across the county. People are less concerned about others feelings and when someone expresses a disagreement or an opposing view, they are receiving horrendous feedback, irrelevant of the topic.   Hating other candidates, other races, and others that don't share your views is individual's rights but to express them publicly and damn them is bullying behavior that is detrimental to our society at large.  You have no way of knowing who or how badly you are hurting someone.  


 There are so many people suffering from mental illness in the world.  These people, just like many others, are concerned about homelessness, health insurance, joblessness, police shootings, economy, terrorism, etc...  For some, social media has been a safe haven to the world and now, it is mass stress and drama of hate.  Simply because someone disagrees  is not a reason to be  cruel on any topic, when did society, in particular the United States, become so anti-tolerant of others' right to differ in opinions and express them?   Negativity not only spreads quicker in our society  it triggers more in the brain and stays there longer.

Colleges across the country were polled and asked if they felt social media is making society more hostile.  80% or greater said yes in several random studies. In regards to recent studies specifically on the current Presidential campaign, recent surveys done show as high as 78% have witnessed outright arguments with "hateful words exchanged."   The posts and  tweets are not promoting issues and supporting candidates, they are insulting other candidates and other people for supporting them.  Citizens are allowing themselves to become an extension of the news media, negative news sources anti-candidates or issues.   The impact this has on our society is not healthy.  Emotions carry over when you step away from the computer and the television.

Our country, our WORLD needs to continue to grow and prosper for everyone.  Crime rates need to decline continually.   Prayers are given daily for longer healthier lives.   The irony is this; it doesn’t matter who our leader is or what kind of money you make, negativity is on the rise and competes with these goals.  


The sun shines every day. That image, or in a text message form, won’t fire off as many neurons in your brain as  a candidate blasting another one as ineffective as a leader.  Babies are born daily and that is truly a miracle, a life-changer. Yet when someone is killed, your brain goes into super charge mode. But, what would you really rather focus on and have guide your mood, your life and interactions, a murder
 or the sun shining on a newborn baby?
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