Negative? Negative.

Throughout my life, I’ve had issues with negativity. That’s a loaded statement, that can be taken any number of ways, depending on who reads it, and what their relationship to me happens to be. So, allow me to parse.

On the surface it sounds as though I’m admitting to being a negative person. I am not, and anybody who defines me in such a fashion has, for the most part, been too lazy to truly know me. Do I lean more towards the pessimistic (realist) side of many issues? I do. Am I afraid to explore my cynicism in a public, sometimes sardonic manner, by way of both the written and spoken word? I am not. Further, if I were to somehow parlay the expression of my sometimes bitter, sometimes darkly humorous, satiric but always sincere cynicism and skepticism into a full time career, I’d not at all be alone. Wide acclaim in writing and any number of other pursuits has been obtained in such ways.

Do I sometimes feel more depressed or anxious about certain situations than I should? Yes, and I’m exploring ways to deal with that. I am more easily discouraged than I’d like to be and on occasion some of my anger or irritation has been misdirected. This doesn’t happen as often as it once did, but it happens. I do my best to rectify it when it does. (Which is more than can be said for some of the previously mentioned lauded purveyors of biting wit in our society.)

I have been hurt and betrayed more than anyone else I know personally in my life. I have suffered more failures with fewer reasons and endured more than my share of bad luck. There are things that should be easy with which I struggle and have struggled for quite a while. My personal and emotional support network is uncommonly small, which this blog oft hath shown. If all of these circumstances conspire at times to make me weary of personal and societal bullshit, I’m going to say/write something about it. It might happen more often than those who are more fortunate than myself would opt to allow in their own lives, but it wouldn’t be the only difference between myself and such people.

Plus, cynicism can be fun to explore, if you’re with the right people. Are you telling me you do’t love reading bad reviews of movies you hated? You never make fun of a stupid song, or become indignant at hateful religious fervor? If you’ve ever enjoyed a rant of any kind, in person, on TV, in a movie, you’re in the same territory as I am here.

In other words, I am not accurately defined as a negative person. Yet that doesn’t stop people from applying that label anyway. And that is the second meaning of my opening sentence, as well as the one I must want to emphasize.

“Throughout my life, I’ve had issues with negativity,” in fact means that for years people have accused me of being a negative person, or being too immersed in negativity. People have stopped talking to me or broken up with me or refused to employ, consider, or even respect me because of it. (I assume so, in most cases based on others. Often I’m not given the satisfaction of a reason for people turning their backs on me.) In short, I’m sick of it.

If years of being made to feel like a second-class citizen by those who take it upon themselves to chastise me for my opinions and expressions thereof have taught me anything, it’s this; just about every person is as negative as I am about something or the other. 

It’s a bit like the role of government in our broken politics today. No matter what any party tells you, nobody upon nobody is against the government being powerful. It’s simply a matter of what powers they wish the government to have. You’ll find many “small, weak government” advocates who insist that the government needs to outlaw certain sexual practices, or reproductive rights, or endorse a specific religious world view. They insist that the government be allowed to take the life of a human being, either in the desert or in the “clinical” confines of an execution room. Only powerful entities can do those things. So in point of fact a certain demographic wants the government to be powerful enough to have control over our lives. Of course they want that. They simply want that power to only affect those with whom they do not agree.

Negativity is the same. Unless you are a sage, a saint, or simply a psychological anomaly, you have things about which you would rant, or cry, or complain, if someone would but listen. Perhaps your support network is deep and wide and your negativity can dissipate faster than most. Perhaps you don’t keep a blog such as I do as a platform to share your feelings, or perhaps you don’t tell as many people about it as I might, in as many circumstances.  But that is simply a matter of platform and volume, not a matter of being positive vs. negative. You know that something does push your buttons or tries your spirit. You cannot call it negativity when someone else expresses it, but allow it to be “responding” or “educating” or “venting” when it is your issue.

Ironically, many “positive thinking” disciples become quite negative when it comes to a specific subject; me. I’ll be more broad and say it’s negativity that’s gets to them. Countless times I have been told just how negative I am. How absurd, offensive, unbecoming, unnecessary, and wrong it is. How I, by my skepticism have reduced the quality of someone’s else life just be being open with  my displeasure over things that bare zero connection to them. It’s as though I have poisoned some mythic life-force well from which such positive-thinking people draw their very will to live. Because of that, their own anger and finger pointed becomes justified, because, like the powers of the government, they are only problematic when applied to themselves as opposed to utilized by themselves.

Lots of people sure enjoy being negative about being negative, and I’m a bit fed up with it.

It would be one thing if such a position were countered with being positive about being positive. But the other patently ineffectual aspect of positive-thinking disciples is that they do not reward positivism in other people. They will avoid, chastise, label and disown someone who goes beyond their personal threshold of negativity, often in order to preserve their own “peace of mind.” But how often do the bestow praise and appreciation on those positive, uplifting, constructive things that people in their lives do? Speaking from experience, I can say, not often.

Say that I do broadcast my negativity more often than most. (Though I don’t.) A legitimate survey of the content I produce on all media will bare out that there are plenty of positives coming from me as well. On Twitter I Tweet articles about writing, science, religion. I share quotations. This blog has many posts concerning my writing  journey, introversion, day to day enlightenment. I am in the process of self-publishing my first collection of fiction ever. i have a website for my poetry, much of which is upbeat, (though not all.) I’m writing both a one-man show I intend to perform, and a regular play I hope to produce, both of which I mention on a regular basis on all of my platforms. I post silly pictures of me enjoying a good beer or a good sandwich. I ask questions in hopes of starting conversations online. I write goofy status lines on Facebook solely for the purpose of making somebody or other laugh.

Most of those people that chastise me for my negativity have been silent on these things. They don’t ask about my progress, or like the status, or retweet the tweet. They don’t want to be involved, or point out to their friends that they know somebody who’s doing thus and so. They don’t comment on my blog. And worse yet, the biggest crock in all of this? Almost none of them ever, ever contacts me privately to tell me that they are proud of what I’m trying to do with my life, or to ask me how I’m feeling, or to just say “hi.” Not that I do these things just so people will applaud me. I do them because they are part of me. But if I’m not going to be cheered when I’m positive, what right has anyone to jeer me when I am negative?

That’s not negative? This is what “being a more positive person” entails? All of what I just mentioned is excluded from an assessment of who I am because I can say on multiple occasions  that the Nationals are playing like shit, this commercial is obnoxious, Star Wars sucks or the service at the local Starbucks is terrible? All of that wiped away because I’m a bit louder and a bit more frank than the “positive” people are about their own problems? (Unless those problems are me.)

I’m not the most charming, the most charismatic, or the most handsome person within my own circle, let alone the world. For better or worse, I cannot buy into saying nothing when something has gotten under my saddle. So be annoyed at my occasional lack of tact, or the fact that I write a lot, or that I don’t always slide out of bed on a rainbow in the morning. I’ll cop to some degree to all of these things. But don’t dare declare me a “negative” person when you can’t be bothered to investigate my entire opus. Don’t presume to say nasty thing directly about me and my worldview that make me feel like shit in response to my nasty rants about piddling shit like movies, commercials or songs you happen to like. My balance may be your balance, but you might see that if you were not on a horse so high that your selective upbeat attitude is probably more due to a lack of oxygen than anything else.

I give the negative with the positive at times, yes. But I,  Ty Unglebower, am not a negative person. And I’m positive of that.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. “Lots of people sure enjoy being negative about being negative, and I’m a bit fed up with it.”

    I have to applaud you for being willing to say this publicly. Someone had to.

    I’ve gotten very similar feedback over the years, and it hasn’t always been easy to deal with. But I don’t let that stop me from being me or expressing myself. In fact, I’ve learned to embrace it.

    If anything, I find the “positivity preaching” to be obnoxious. Does it make me negative to say so? To some, sure. But it’s honest. And we need more honesty out there, not people masking their own negative judgmental attitudes under self-aggrandizing pseudo-smiles. That’s not to say people should bitch and moan about everything and never contribute anything positive to the world. But no one should feel forced to bottle up certain views and emotions for the satisfaction of others. That is no healthier than ranting 24/7.

    Some of us simply have more on our minds than most, and some of us are brave enough to say things others will not — like you have in this post. I can’t even tell you how many of my “positive” friends come crying to me when they need to rant or want advice. I speak out about things publicly because, as you’ve mentioned, I have the platform to do so. And many of the things that bother me lead to teaching moments that are relevant to my readers. Others internalize their negativity. They put on a happy face around others and wallow in agony among their closest confidantes, drown their sorrows in booze, or resort to some other vice.

    And you’re absolutely right. The positivity police certainly have a way of latching onto anything that isn’t chipper. But do they ever acknowledge the positive? More often than not, they don’t seem to notice. If anyone’s focused on negativity, it seems to be them. For some strange reason, when the rest of us have vented and gotten those negative feelings off our shoulders, they seem drawn to them like a drug.

    I suspect some of this “you must be happy and positive all the time” stuff comes from the self-help society we live in. There are people delusional enough to believe that thinking happy thoughts and visualizing good things is all they need to succeed. Most never will. But they sure will buy the next book that promises a similar easy way out. Positivity is pointless unless it’s balanced with realism (which unfortunately many people mistake for pessimism these days). If you choose to be ignorant of potential problems and obstacles, you can’t come up with a plan to work through them or get around them.

    Fortunately most people fall somewhere in the middle. It’s simply a broad spectrum. And as long as you’re not on one tail end or the other, you’ll probably turn out just fine. 🙂

  2. Laura W.

    I think people are unnecessarily negative about negativity because we have a skewed idea of what happiness is. Some people think that happiness means being peppy and happy all the damn time. Which creates pressure for people to be happy all the time, and makes them worry when they or someone else isn’t. Happiness or positivity doesn’t mean being happy every second of every day. After all, you have to acknowledge that something is wrong before you can try to fix it or even process it. I would prefer an honestly negative person to a fake-positive person. I know people who are obsessively negative because that’s their habit and their comfort zone. I don’t think you’re one of those people, at least not from what I’ve seen…

  3. Thank you both for your reply. It’s good to know that even if I’m in the minority, I’m not totally alone in my assessments. And Laura, I particularly like your point, which I didn’t address per se, about the rather forced societal view of happiness, and the implications of same.

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