cool kids
Image by Strawberriecake via Flickr

Alright, who decided it’s cool to be negative?

Looking back, I think it started in elementary school, when suddenly things became divided into categories. Things were cool or lame. Activities were exciting or stupid. People were all of the above.

And although we’re expected to mature as we age, I often find that very little has changed in the negativity department. In both my personal and professional life, I’ve encountered quite a few people who decide that it’s witty or likeable to provide scathing comments about someone’s idea in a meeting or to deride coworkers.

I’m guilty of it. We all are. When it’s the “cool” thing to do, we all have the temptation to want to fit in, so we say things we don’t mean and partake in the negativity because it gives us the sense that we’re part of a community. We mock and disrespect people we could be learning from. We take our huge network of connections and unconsciously start severing ties by closing ourselves off to being open to new ideas. While we may think we’re part of a community, we are actually alienating ourselves.

For example, you get frustrated one day and write a blog post about someone who really bothers you. Maybe you don’t say that person’s name or provide a lot of specific details, but nonetheless, you post it on the internet. That blog post gets indexed by a search engine or shared on Twitter. It gets reposted somewhere else. You see some nice traffic to your blog which is great, right? Then, you go for a job interview and on the desk of your prospective employer is a stack of paper with screenshots of your Twitter account, Facebook profile, and oh – that blog post you wrote. Suddenly, your entire level of competency and professionalism is called into account. Does the company you’re working with really want to hire someone who posts things like this? Who shows a disrespect for others and maybe even the company itself? Who might not be able to fit in with the rest of the team? Who can compromise the overall brand of the company should he or she be made a member? Suddenly, that post that made you feel like one of the cool kids costs you an opportunity. What’s so wrong with being an optimist?

Is it really so terrible to have ideas and share them?

Is it alright to actually encourage and engage others?


Let’s give a proverbial “shove it” to all those people to decide to kill encouragement and squash every good idea because he or she is afraid of change or challenge. (See? Even in my language here it’s tough to break the habit. For some reason, we tend to equate sarcasm with wit and edginess…is that really the case?)

I think it’s time we change this whole world view that being sardonic equates with being one of the cool kids. The risks are definitely out there for people as individuals, as well as our world as a whole. When we reject ideas to feel like a member of the community, we’re squashing resourcefulness and ingenuity. We’re complicating and delaying innovation.

Let’s remember what we learned before things became cool. Let’s be nice to each other. Play with blocks and color in a coloring book. Practice tying your shoes. Tell stories with excitement. Approach the world with wonder, because let’s face it, we still have a whole lot to learn. Share resources. Share in the conversation. Share ideas and encourage others to do the same.

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5 Responses

  1. Bumble cannot help but feel this is a personal attack. Just kidding! Actually it’s a very insightful post. Sarcasm is typically the first form of raw humor people learn. Most never mature past it. So it is often percieved as witty. There are more sophisticated forms of humor such as hyperbole. Sarcasm also doesn’t have to be negative but you are right, it usually is. If snarky comments are self deprecating they can show a vulnerable side which is endearing. If they are inclusive of others in the group, those comments can show a common bond. It’s the simple difference of saying we instead of she. It is a shame that sarcasm becomes equated with humor. Very few sarcastic remarks get a chuckle. I know your post is more about being negative, but laughter is a gift that let’s people relax, exhale and feel like someone gets them. That’s totally different than sniping down people’s feelings or ideas with a cheap quip. That kind of attitude is just a projection of the snipers insecurity. Nobody that gets anywhere in this world did it with just their own ideas. Don’t be afraid to be optimistic even if you feel like Diogenes pushing a boulder up a hill. Few people know it but Bumble is a closet optimist. Negative sometimes of course. We all have our days. That should never be pointed at someone though. Great post Mandy! Death to You!

  2. Ladies and gentlemen: the wisdom of Rumble Bumble :)

    Thank you so much for your kind words about the post and you definitely raised a lot of great posts. Sarcasm can be used for good, especially in terms of humor, however, the negativity that stems from the frequent usage of that thinking often makes being sarcastic more of a habit than an attempt to bring humor to the community. It becomes far too easy to slip into a pattern of disapproval simply because it feels comfortable or “original” (depending on your own personal motivations, of course).

    I support Bumble in his closet optimism :) As an optimist, it’s always nice when you find kindred spirits who aren’t so quick to say that a sunnier worldview is naive (it probably is). I’m no stranger to the negativity. I just prefer to focus in on what’s good rather than what isn’t, and if something that isn’t can be changed, then I say let’s do something about it. Life is far too short to spend the majority of one’s time complaining and rejecting good ideas just because it’s not the “cool” thing to do. :)

  3. Somehow, it’s always easier to be negative; being positive takes more work. It’s the old saying, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

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