I've been reading a fair amount on the internet lately and have attended a couple of semniars through work in the past couple of weeks and have stumbled upon my disatisfaction with how often people are willing to share what they hate, why they hate it and how much of an idiot the person they hate really is.
Whether it's the latest celebrity break up where the comments section of the announcing articile is flooded with negative things to say about committment to marriage, commenters calling each other mornons, or even revelry at a couple's demise (by the way to most of the reading public these people are strangers so it's funny to me to be so invested in them in the first place, but to have a public opinion on a marriage breaking up where you have never spoken to either party seems almost psychologically imbalanced), the latest tragedy of violence in the news, or a seminar at work, everyone seems willing to share their negative thoughts.
I find it concerning for a few reasons:
One, it's really no fun at the end of the day to listen to people talk about what they don't like. Somtimes it feels good to do it to blow off steam, but since it's not really productive, it doesn't actually get you anywhere. Complaining wears you out and, at least at work, it can get you a reputation for being an essentially negative person. Criticial thinking is something I really appreciate, but criticism doesn't seek to destroy, it seeks to examine.
Second, it limits openness and encouragement with others. I noticed this particularly at work events where the first person to chime in during a discussion after a speaker presented put down the ideas being shared, everyone else at the table kind of slowly jumped in on the criticism. Occassionally you run into people who are willing to be contradictory to negativity, but mostly people just follow the leader. Once the speaker has been deemed an idiot or a special case then no one else is permitted the opportunity to liken themselves to the speaker's experiences, to applaud what was said or even bring critical thinking into play. It's just a bash session and we're done. Again, not productive, not encouraging.
Lastly, it just really sets my mind on the wrong course for the day. I know the world is full of hateful people, but is it really neccessary that I see them on twitter, articles on the internet and have discussions with them at work? I avoid the comments sections as much as possible. I try to just get information I want/need as cleanly as possible, but it's tough. It bothers me to see people fight, to watch as people rage about religion, families, children, politics, money... without regard that there is a person on the other end of that device, taking it in. Damage really is being done. It makes us hard, suspicious, angry... is that really what we need more of? This blog isn't open for comments and its not out of cowardice, it's really just because the intent of this is for me to have a space to write, not for me to collect fans or haters. I don't need to know if someone agrees with me or not to know my own mind on something. Whether I sound old or out of touch, young or immature, matters little to me when I don't share my whole life here. I listen to my family and friends who know me deeply. Those are the comments that matter - critical or not.
I wish there were a way to turn things around, but these things feel like runaway trains in the world. So, here I will keep the comments closed, keep my eyes on how I can be effectively critical in situations around me, but remembering there are people with families, concerns, joys, passions... people like me and unlike me who want things to be better, if just in their little part of the world.