Thanks to the recent, ugly departure of the Florida State University Seminoles from the College Football Playoffs, there has been a considerable amount of commiserating and complaining online. A mutual friend of ours made the comment that FSU fans are the worst. Being from Boston, myself, I’ve always heard the same negative reaction to [Red Sox | Patriots | Bruins] fans. And yet, both Jodi and I have known so many great, polite, enthusiastic, and friendly fans of our teams, we wondered where these opinions come from? And then it struck me.
Have you ever gone into the online chat rooms, the e-communities, the subreddits where some very passionate fans gather to trash talk? Have you, maybe, lingered for awhile, tracking down particularly nasty threads – watching with a curiosity akin to slowing down for a car wreck on the interstate? When you finally broke away, how did you feel? Were you awash in negative feelings?
If so, you got sucked in by the negativity magnet and it sucked the good feelings right out of you. Seems rather anti-Freudian to me since we supposedly seek pleasure and avoid pain. Yet it’s hard to stay away from these places. We barely notice that the trash-talkers in those communities may only be 5 or 10 fans and, for a team that has hundreds of thousands if not millions of fans, they influence our opinion of the entire group.
Now, maybe you’re not a sports fan and you’re wondering what this has to do with MOD Love and relationships. Those same negativity magnets exist all around you – especially on social media. You know there are people in your newsfeed that are going to post predominantly negative content, stir up a lively, albeit negative conversation with a few other people, and suck you in to watch what happens. What’s the harm, right?
There’s this concept called the Betari Box and it illustrates a pattern: your attitude affects your behavior which affects my attitude which affects my behavior. Giving in to these negativity magnets not only decreases your enjoyment of life, it will bring down those around you. You don’t have to give in to it!
Maybe it’s such a pattern in your life that it’s hard to stop reading the threads on Facebook about your friend’s dating problems but, like anything else in life, it’s worth putting the effort in to make it happen. The payoff is greater happiness and less of a negative attitude.
But wait, you say! (Yes, I heard you.) Are you suggesting I give up socializing with my friends? Stop reading about the sports teams that I love? C’mon, you know me better than that!
I’m talking about making positive changes in your life. I think you can admit to yourself that you can see the train wrecks from a mile away. Give yourself permission to stay away from those. You’re smart enough to know when you’re needed and when you’ll just get frustrated. Do you really want frustration in your life? Then avoid the stuff you really can’t control in the first place. That will leave you much better prepared to handle the stuff you can control.
So, if you’re regularly finding yourself drawn into the magnetic pull of negativity, try taking a step back and see if your outlook on life starts improving. Give it 30 days. Take a look at those people around you that are truly happy and notice where they are putting their focus and energies. I bet you’ll see them cheering on everyone, including the underdog.
Though, maybe not the Yankees.
Steve is the founder of Straight Talk Entertainment and currently produces and writes for the audio drama Aural Traditions, recently voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Local Podcast. He’s also an Information Security professional and avid shark tooth hunter.