Long time no see, friends! I apologize for the lack of segments; in a slight irony I’ve been focusing on getting everything in my own little world back in order. Now that I have, I’ll be alternating each month between these segments and reviews. Hope you enjoy!
When you have seen enough of the Internet subculture and its effect on the current generations, it is easy to see how people will dive into the catharsis of some of the Internet’s less appealing pastimes. Antagonistic and addictive, trolling and reflecting other forms of negativity onto the Internet allow catharsis to those in which somehow are (or at least feel) emotionally repressed. What nobody realizes is the cognitive and emotional toll it takes on them, and how surrounding themselves with such negativity will hinder their viewpoints and actions later.
Are you curious as to what this has to do with music? After the break, I’ll explain the point in thinking positive, and how it can affect your creativity and productivity.
What do you see in this art piece? No, really, take a moment to look at it carefully and think. When you’re ready, read below.
This painting sold for $105,000,000 USD. Crazy, but no matter whether you think it’s worthy, it makes sense when stuff like that sells in art museums, doesn’t it? The person that first brought this to my attention didn’t think so. This person’s reaction was to call it “fucking garbage,” claim it wasn’t “real art,” and suggest that real art doesn’t make money. While other people went to argue the merits of what is or isn’t art, I simply responded with “If you’re that upset, work on what you consider real art, make it into a museum and set the new standard. Or if nothing else, just keep creating art.” This person then spent nearly four hours of their time responding to people who politely disagreed with a rainbow of derogatory slurs, making sure to include me on that targeted list. I actually forgot about it by the time I was tagged in the response. I had finished preparing the list of equipment I needed to stream MAGFest’s Chipspace, went over my set list for my performance that weekend, replied to a commission, started my homework assignment and opened up an educational video on branding. I saw the response, and instead of being insulted by this person, I took the twelve seconds of time it was to write “I hope you get a promotion at The Sports Authority,” the place of his work according to his Facebook profile, and turned off notifications on the thread.
Negativity will cloud our judgment and perception of all sorts of things, and often can lead to a dramatic decrease in productivity and creativity. It can cause you to lose focus at the most inopportune time, and cause us to make decisions rashly, amongst many other things. While it is sometimes unavoidable, negativity is an addictive trait that we pass around to each other like a common cold. It doesn’t even have to be related to one subject in order to affect how you perform everywhere else. Even worse, someone else’s projected negativity can affect everyone around you. However, like many things in life, the most important factor to negativity is how you react to it. If you learn how to encourage positive thinking and dismiss and reflect away negativity, you will be surprised at not only how less stressful situations can become, but how easy it becomes to not let problems bother you. So let’s talk about things you can do instead of focusing yourself on negative subjects.
Take the time to think from someone else’s perspective. If someone is giving you their perspective, be open to understanding why someone would think this way. This not only gives you a better understanding of how someone else might come to conclusions you would disagree with, but might also aid you in sales, networking or even landing a gig somewhere outside of your own local group (if you even have one.) In the event that this happens to be a perspective that is too outrageous or intentionally malicious, learn to disregard, dismiss and ignore negativity. My favorite analogy comes from someone talking about dealing with toxic players in online games,
“If someone were to hand you a gift, and you know that gift happened to be a bomb set to explode the moment you received it, would you accept it? Of course not, so why do you accept the words that come from that toxic person’s mouth?”
This might seem extreme, and this may not be for everyone, but consider associating more with happy, productive or positive people. I’m not saying to cut your negative friends out of your life, but as I’ve mentioned, negativity is contagious (and, coincidentally, so is developing a positive attitude.) A great example would be Facebook. You’re going to come across someone’s awful, garbage opinion or statement and it’s going to make you furious. You may want to respond, or call them out on their bullshit… Or, hey, just don’t. You can unfollow someone, and you can hide posts you don’t want to see. You have the power to keep all of that garbage out of your view online.
Speaking of garbage opinions, learn to use positive words while thinking and talking. Alongside simple phrases such as, “I can”, “I am able,” “it is possible,” it’s very important that you learn to reserve negativity for truly negative times. Try to be constructive with things that are less than positive. People are infinitely more emotional than we let on, and this is incredibly clear in nerd communities that have intense, heated arguments such as, “Is there sexism and/or corruption in the video game industry?” It is best to always assume the person you’re speaking with will react emotionally until you have observed otherwise. This also applies outside of nerd communities. To paraphrase a friend’s mother when talking about working with all sorts of customers as the owner of a small business,
“People might grow up to be forty or fifty, but they still have the emotional levels of high school kids.”
In an effort to always learn something, as well as to always better yourself, try learning something that will lead to improvement. Explore your passion, dive into a hobby, or just make a general life improvement, such as finding ways to encourage positive thinking. Always engage in something that makes the expression “you learn something every day” actually mean it. Seriously, even Googling a question can lead to some interesting results. If you’re less of a fan of reading textbooks or PDF files and more a visual or hands-on person, you might want to instead check out YouTube for plenty of knowledgeable sources on quite literally almost anything.
Feeling angry? Upset? Anxious? Are you feeling restless overall; like you can’t find a way to redirect that energy into something constructive? Engage in some form of physical activity. Go for a walk or a run, do some push-ups, go for a swim, do some yoga, lift weights, play a sport. Just do something to burn out the energy with kinesthetic movement. Whatever it is, physical activity will increase your brain’s development of endorphins, and by the time you’ve gotten out that energy you’ll at least feel good from the outcome. Hopefully by then you can figure out what was bothering you, or at least discover a viable solution to help prevent further negativity.
I’m not going to pretend that all of this doesn’t sound idealistic, or is as simple as just hitting a proverbial switch in your head. I am going to tell you, however, that the moment you can approach things with a positive energy, you will notice how it reflects well on other people. People enjoy being around what brings them positive feelings; why wouldn’t they, after all? We’re all looking for a way to escape our own negativity. Sometimes, it is as easy as reaching out and saying something nice and uplifting as “I believe in you.” You would be stunned at how many people you know that would benefit from a simple, occasional reminder of their self-worth. You never know, maybe you brightening up their day might end up helping you feel good, as well! You won’t know without trying, right?
If any of these suggestions don’t seem to apply to you, I understand. A lot of these seem a bit all-purpose, but then again so is negativity. If you need more suggestions, I recommend Googling how to start thinking positively. There are definitely some more specifically-tailored suggestions out there that I felt would have made this already-lengthy article a bit too wordy.
If you catch me at MAGFest this year, or even any other event, feel free to ask me about this or any other articles and I’ll be glad to clarify or direct you to something that might be better suited for your specific case. Otherwise until the next article, friends, I’ll see you in a bit. Happy creating.