Monday 9 September 2019

Avoid Online "Toxic Positivity"

Most people online appear to be living an ideal life; we're awash in pictures of beautiful vacations, ideal happy children or a perfect slice of lemon meringue pie!  These are rarely balanced with pictures of the long waits at airport security, the children throwing up and crying, or all the mundane meals of Tuna casserole somebody may eat.  (For the record, I actually rather LOVE tuna casserole!) 

This is being called "Toxic Positivty"... an unending deluge of stories about the perfect state of everybody else's life which can make us feel less thrilled about our own mundane experiences, with all of its normal ups and downs.

“Social media can make us feel like we have to be happy all the time,” Timothy Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis and author of When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness in an article in the August 28, 2019 edition of "Thrive Global".

Another form of toxic positivity can also be in people's reactions when bad news IS shared on social media.  All the complex nuances of human emotion and interactions are missing when somebody replies to a family death by saying something like "It'll be brighter tomorrow." type of trite response.  There is a sense on social media that people aren't welcome to share the truly painful moments of their lives.  

According to the detailed article in Thrive Global, (Link will open in a new window), there are steps you can take to reduce the effects of toxic positivity.

Be aware of how much time you're spending on social media, and how it makes you feel.  Try adjusting the time you spend, and see how that changes your mood afterwards.  Maybe there's a sweet spot where you can get all the good news, without feeling too worn out. 

If you do decide to share when you're feeling less than great, don't put too much weight on the responses your friends may give you.  People often feel they need to try to cheer you up, and that may be the last thing you need at that moment.  Realize your friends don't quite know what to say, and that it's okay to not feel okay sometimes.

And "Trade Likes and Follows for Pen and Paper".  I'll let you read the article in the link for more details on this last one.