Monday, November 29, 2010

Is the Internet Built for Pessimists?

I suppose this all goes back to the old newspaper adage: We don’t report on the plane landings. Just the crashes.

But I have to wonder: Does the instant media access/frenzy combined with the easy anonymity of the Internet make the Internet perfect for pessimists? I think so. Try to make a positive comment – especially in the realm of human behavior – and you’re going to be called a rose-tinted-glasses-wearing Pollyanna wannabee, at least on the sites I visited over the weekend.

Jack Cafferty – and his forehead – are but one example, wherein Mr. Cafferty trots out the typical media litany of bad Black Friday behavior, then shakes his head while asking the question “What’s happened to us?”

Well, Jack, nothing really. The media are still focusing on the bad behavior while ignoring the behavior that’s acceptable to exemplary. You’re feeding the pessimism you see in life without realizing there’s so much to admire in humanity. But I know that the Pollyanna attitude doesn’t drag eyeballs to your blog, so hey, I understand.

It's an old trick, and one I played a few times as a journalist. But the stories that I did which I remember with the most fondness are the ones that maintained a positive approach because, well, the news was positive: Two individuals with Down syndrome marrying each other, a local expert in wilderness survival getting to help out with the film "Cast Away," and any other number of stories I wrote. I miss doing those kinds of stories. The bad news/pessimist I gotchas, I don't miss much at all. as well has been a deep well of negative-vibe merchantry as of late. The collapse of a roof at a Salvation Army center in Colorado really brought out the ugliness.

Then again, it could be me. I call myself an optimist, but maybe -- just maybe, mind you -- the pessimists' posts are more interesting to read. Though interesting not in the "I agree with you" sense but interesting in the "wow this guy/gal must be a real train wreck and a ball at parties" sense.

I, for one, will continue to look on the positive side of things. Humans may have their failings, but that doesn’t mean humanity is of itself intrinsically evil. I’ll even look for the good among the media reports I see – though that task is a bit harder to accomplish.

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