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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Culture of Pessimism Conformity

I can already tell you that I am not about to blog what you think I am going to blog about. I am not about to discuss the traditional ideas of conforming to mainstream culture to be accepted, nor am I about to talk about the more complex but equally as discussed topics of culture assimilation, globalization, and westernization.

What I am about to talk about is a disturbing conclusion I have come to about current generations. Current generations are generations of pessimism conformity.

Having recently entered the internet culture of Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc., I have noticed that a lot of posts and are pessimistic and accepting of procrastination, sluggishness and low self-esteem.

I am not about to tell you to “cheer up.”

However, I do think constantly spreading these messages of unhappiness, failure and procrastination, things I also experience daily and have been overwhelmed with in the past, are not helping your fellow internet users. It’s perpetuating the cycle of negativity.

The cycle of negativity is something I did not realize existed until I was pulled out of it myself. I find internet culture does not help stay out of the cycle of negativity if you are not constantly aware of the potential effects of what you’re consuming may have on you.

I am not promoting a lockdown of expression. As a journalist, I support free speech in all things. However, I do think we need to take a hard look at the messages we’re sending into circulation and how they affect the general morale of the internet culture and community.

Yes. I do think the internet has developed to the point where it has an overall mass consciousness involving morale. That morale must be cared for and used to help the world, not to spread negativity and acceptance of the constant negativity.

Do not be lulled into complacency. Do not give up hope. Join my campaign to increase positivity on the internet in any way you can.

Have any questions? Comments? Concerns? There’s a comment box. And if you’re actually reading this, you probably have my phone number, so just call me.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree.

    Well, I don't doubt your experience that there's a lot of pessimism in the social networks you participate in. Cultures and cycles of pessimism definitely exist, and you're right that they're dangerous and destructive.

    The point I mainly disagree with is that the culture of the internet, overall, is pessimistic. Insofar as the internet has a culture and a morale (I think you can make the case, but I don't think it's very relevant to this discussion -- a point I will return to) I feel that its most defining morale trait is a sort of techno-utopianism, or at least absentminded revolution. (Mike Rugnetta made something like this point in his talk at this year's XOXO festival, here:

    Pessimism strikes me as fundamentally inconsistent with the major functions of the internet: connection, learning, speaking out, and so on.

    I think what's more relevant here, though, are the internet's subcultures, and that's where I think you'll find a lot of pessimism. The atmosphere you find on tumblr, twitter, facebook, etc. have more to do with the people you choose to connect with than the overall atmosphere of the website. You said yourself that you've got experience with a cycle of negativity -- it makes sense, then, that the communities you most immediately have access to tend to reinforce that kind of attitude.

    So, there's good news and bad news.

    The good news is really good: there are communities out there that have basically none of this pessimism floating around in them! And, since the internet is all about connectivity, you can totally access them! It's not necessarily easy, because communities aren't the sort of thing you can just pull off a shelf, but there are positive influences to surround yourself with on the internet.

    It's also kinda good news that there's no great pessimism overhanging the whole of the internet. (If you believe me, which you may not.)

    On the other hand, that's kinda bad news, too, because it means that pessimism isn't one big problem that, with a sufficient burst of effort, can be vanquished off the internet forever. It's pockets of behaviors in small groups all over the place: the same, difficult problem, over and over and over and over and over. If your goal was to save the internet, it can make you feel pretty pessimistic.