One of the side effects of taking a journey of gratitude, is that all of the trivial complaints and whining around us takes on a deeper contrast. The more that I am thankful for what I have and what is around me, the more the complaints and whining appear in-congruent to my own personal experience. Lately, in a couple of the web communities I belong too, I am noticing that the negativity is jumping up and down screaming to be noticed. Normally, I electronically walk around these comments and obstacles, normally. I thought I would embark on a journey to complain about the complaints. Highlight the negativity and offer a contrasting viewpoint. I took on a slightly more edgy form of communicating from my normal mode. I was not sure what the reaction would be, but in hindsight, I guess things are pretty predictable.
Many folks like the counterpoint to the negativity, we all slide into negative modes of thinking from time to time and a gentle reminder can be all that is needed for a shift in perspective. Some people really dwell in a place of negativity though and their identify is very closely tied to their behavior. For some people, targeting a behavior is no different than targeting them personally. It was an interesting exchange and I learned something from the whole thing. First of all, I just don’t get personally and emotionally invested in these Internet “dust-ups”, it was nice to read and write without having my face turn red and my veins bulging.
I also learned that doing this is not necessarily healthy for an online community. The non-vocal minority does not live in a negative headspace and nor do they condone or agree with the negativity. They simply shake their head silently and move on. Bringing attention to the negativity only shines a light in a dark corner where it is best not to be shined. It acts as a polarizing element and that is not healthy for an online community.
In the past, a brief dust-up on the Internet would have bothered me, in this case, it was a non-emotional opportunity to learn more about the dynamics of a community and how its constituents deal with differing viewpoints, whether they are gently or abrasively stated. Life is one great big laboratory for examining human dynamics and interaction. There is a lot to learn if you can stand back and observe without being personally invested. I am thankful that even in moments of tension and edginess, that I can draw lessons and see patterns that help me understand the world a little better. A journey of lifelong learning means that there are opportunities in everyday situations; it also means I still have so much to learn.
He who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument ~ Chinese Proverb