Away from negativity

one a glassy river

I have to admit, I have slipped away from the computer and into nature more than once this week. And you know what? It felt good. I just had to get away from the screen, and all the other little bitty neurotic things that happen behind it.

We spent Mother’s Day weekend canoeing up the glassy Brunswick river, surrounded by mangroves. We stared into the open blue sky and felt connected and peaceful.

Back there, somewhere on the Internet, negative things were happening.

It’s not just the stream of news – earthquakes, devastation, human-less political decisions, executions… It’s the stream of negative comments on just about every news site. Head over to Mamamia now and read the comments on one of their posts if you want to know what I mean. I don’t want to pollute my little sunshine house by pasting them over here.

I do value opinion – sensible opinion – and the right to express it. But there is a difference between a clearly thought-out idea constructively expressed and horrible insult and slander. And it’s not just faceless trolls leaving murky, stinky trails of hatred. It’s ordinary people, assaulting the protagonist or author of the article in ways they would never do to their face.

Having never been assaulted online myself, I can only imagine how painful it must be. Or how thick-skinned the author needs to be to put up with such assault on a regular basis. Always Josefa and Mrs Woog have positively mastered this skill – Good. On. Them. I am not sure I would have the same ability.

I do wonder though about the likes of Belle Gibson. No matter how terrible her actions, how on earth is she faring in the face of such negativity?

Or what about when you share a vulnerable part of yourself in a public forum, and you are ripped to shreds?

I worry too about the person leaving the hate-filled comment. What does it do to the commenter?

I know for myself that being negative and bitchy in the privacy of my own home has but one outcome – I feel crap. Sharing my negativity with my husband doesn’t ever have the intended effect of relieving me of my negative feeling – it just compounds and accentuates it. I am just creating a big, ugly snowball of negativity.

When I first got together with Gregor, he had just come from spending seven years as a Buddhist. He lived in retreat centres, meditated on a daily basis and spent a lot of time studying Buddhist literature.

One of the key things I got from those early conversations was him was the Western Order of Buddhist’s understanding of karma. Karma is not the eye for an eye magical thinking I had thought it to be. Karma is the accumulation of actions. You feel what you feel, but how you act on your feeling results in your future emotion.

Leaving a negative comment doesn’t just insult the person you intend to insult. It becomes part of the fibre of the future you. It begins to define you.

I shelter myself from ingesting such negativity by turning away. I head to lovely, happy places like Pip’s blog or Foxs Lane. Or I simply switch off my computer.

At home, I am doing something practical about addressing my own tendency to occasionally be negative. I have assigned five minutes a day to negative talk – if you have something to get off your chest, do it now, or forever hold your peace until the next five-minute block.

Some days, there is nothing negative to say. The five-minute block sits empty and alone. And sometimes, it’s just a minute or two or not-really-very-negative chit-chat.

The negative spill is contained. I feel cleaner, like that river we canoed on. Glassy. Reflective. Fresh.

And there’s more room for much nicer things.

How do you feel about the constant stream of negativity on big news sites? Is it just me, or is it getting worse?

Linking with Essentially Jess

  • I agree.
    I know just enough to keep me aware of the big events in the world, but I’d prefer not to have that steady flow of negativity at home or at my desk. There are too many wonderful things going on in the world to be constantly brought down by the shitty things …

  • LydiaCLee

    I don’t know if it’s getting worse, it’s just that we suddenly see it – and it opens a world that we were unaware of before…

  • The negativity does get to me. People are slammed for doing things that hurt no one- sharing a photo, being a certain race, holding a different view. I don’t get it. In the face of Belle Gibson- she is another kettle of fish because she hurt many people and gave out dangerous advice. I have no doubt people may be dead because of her. I think anger there is not misplaced though I hope she gets the help she needs to deal with it.

  • I could have written this post Zanni. I agree 100% with everything. I don’t understand the constant stream of negativity and I believe that the moment you have written a nasty comment, the seed has been sown for a crap outlook on life and it affects the person so much deeper than they realize. I wrote a post a week ago about how I rang a hater before Easter who attacked one of my instagram photos to find out where she was coming from and she told me it was social media and to get over it. Such a terrible way to look at what she had done. I do worry about Belle Gibson. What she did was wrong, but the backlash of hate is unbelievable and I think unacceptable.

    • That’s crazy to be told to “get over it”. What’s happened to our moral compass??

  • EloiseAngela

    I am also bamboozled by the amount of online bitchiness. Whenever I find myself spiralling into bitch and moan mode, I get creative. As a creative, I’m always looking for things to improve, and when I don’t have a decent creative project happening, life in general becomes my target practice. I have come to realise that the people who devote their energy to making vitriolic comments about others – especially other mothers – need to own their creativity and stop creating pointless drama. Women are emotional beings! If we’re not making good, it’s all too easy to make trouble. Do something constructive, ladies! You’re a powerful creator. Don’t waste your energy on being a b*tch.

  • I simply avoid the ‘big news sites’. I don’t want to fill my day with bad news or negative people. I don’t understand people’s need to throw their negative opinions at others. Didn’t their mothers ever teach them ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’. I’m glad you have found a way to step away and avoid it.

  • I don’t read a lot of sites that create negative comments with click-bait headlines. There is enough negativity in the world without bringing that into my own space. Fortunately I’ve never really been subjected to anything too horrible myself. I just can’t imagine these people who seem so filled with hate and anger. It’s sad. And maybe it just reflects our world today. Everyone is screaming to be heard over the noise of the internet. What was a wonderful place to make the world smaller, has fast become a breeding ground for anger, hate and negativity. But, if you look hard enough there are some wonderful spaces, here being one of them. And that’s where I tend to hang out online. And it is important too, to step away and switch off completely each and every day. Touch real life and soak it all in, that’s what really matters. xx

  • I think the problem with quashing negative opinion altogether is that we will tend to stick with the status quo rather than pushing back. I don’t think there’s a problem with negative comments as such, the problem is when they are a personal attack. What seems to happen in negative comments sections is almost like a pack mentality. In real life the facial expressions and awkward silences of the majority (I like to believe the majority of people are not the type who leave nasty comments) alone would likely cause a nasty person to stop speaking. Online those facial expressions are simply white space. Definitely food for thought. Thanks for linking with #IBOT.

  • I think it’s exhausting! I’ve reduced my time on social media etc by deleting apps from my mobile devices cos it feels too full-on much of the time. I guess we can’t change everything else, so stepping back is the best option.

  • I will be honest and say that I avoid big news sites and to news programs. I choose to steer my attention to positive places. They may not be sunshine and lollipops all the time but they are about growth and connection and authentic sharing. I will never understand how people can spew so much criticism and hate towards strangers online.

  • Zanni I love your idea of the five minutes of negative talk. I am really concerned what this growing, festering online negativity will breed for future generations. The line is shifting and not in a good way. Sure some of us have a thick skin, hit delete and move on. But why aren’t we also saying – stop saying hurtful unecessary things to other people – just stop. It is not ok, it cannot hide behind the mask of freedom of speech nor entitlement, it is plain rude and as a collective humanity we deserve better. Maybe we need to spend less time here, less time in this online space. Maybe…

    • What is the solution?? You are right – we shouldn’t accept it. I think our radio shock jocks and many of our politicians add to the negative snowball too.

  • I avoid most news. I will hear if something big is happening. My husband is going through I guess what a lot of people do at uni and reads a lot of political stuff and sometimes I have to ask him if it makes himself feel better or worse to read it and talk and think about it? It’s hard to find a balance.

  • Lilly Mary

    Anzac week with everything happening, well… everywhere… I had to have a time out and in our routine Saturday post I apologised that I was operating under childhood advice from my mother “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Negativity just eats away at the soul – and my soul is too previous and valuable for that 🙂 I love this post – thanks x

  • I love your idea of having 5 minutes a day for negative talk. I am always open to hearing other people’s opinions but if it’s just to say something for the sake of being hurtful then I am a big believer in the old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all’.

  • I really like that five minute slot for negativity. I’m going to try that because I find that on some days I can be more negative than I like. As for the negativity online, I steer clear of it too. I can’t comprehend how mean and nasty people can be and what for?

  • I love the idea of five minutes for negativity and then move on. I might need to try it myself. I was just reading a thread on Facebook this morning and was shaking my head at the way people speak to each other. You often see the same names coming up, speaking the same way. There is a polite was to disagree, but people just go to the attack. Usually if I disagree with something I see on social media I just scroll past and don’t even engage. The most safe option I think.
    Have a lovely day. I hope it is filled with positivity and happiness x

    • Yes, unfortunately it’s often not worth expressing an opinion for fear of the onslaught that may come!

  • Author Bek Mugridge

    What a great idea 5 minutes of negativity is!
    I have been focusing on positive and calmness for 2 years now, still not perfect but getting better at it all the time and life is so much better for it.
    Negativity steals you joy and affects your health, great post xx

    • It does affect your health – and those around you! Sounds like you are doing an amazing job x

  • I reckon the 5 minute idea is brilliant – or the idea of writing down the negative feelings and then burning them so they are gone. I do try to breathe out negative feelings but it doesn’t always work. I always try to think that negativity is only holding a mirror up to your own soul – and it isn’t a pretty picture. The Brunswick River is beautiful though.

    • It is beautiful Kathy. I like your mirror analogy too. Beautiful.

  • I think it has become worse hun and I just want to switch off from it altogether as it just gets to be too much. xx

    • Scary isn’t it? Switch off – Plan Excellent. xx

  • It’s definitely getting worse. It gets me down to have such large doses of unhappy shoved down my throat. I’m like you – I switch off, I go somewhere nicer. I definitely believe in airing negativity if that is how we feel, but I need to counter-balance 1 negative with at least 10 positives!! x

    • That’s a good plan too Bron. I will try that one.
      What does our collective future hold I wonder?? x