Why Are We So Negative?

Here’s a secret. When I am thinking of what I should blog about I sometimes have in the back of my mind the Google Analytics page for my blog. This page lets me know whether my blog hits are up or down. I like to keep the blog hits as high as possible, and like other bloggers, have learned some tricks of the trade to promote traffic to my site. The greater the traffic, the more people who are reading my blog, the more the message is communicated, and there is also the fact that I am paid according to the number of hits I get.

I have noticed over the years that the blog posts which attract the most attention are the negative and controversial ones. If I criticize someone, point out defects, stir the pot and hit certain hot buttons the hits start coming in, the links proliferate and the traffic starts to roll. Is this what I am supposed to be doing? Am I supposed to be stirring up controversy on purpose in order to generate ratings? Furthermore, I am aware that this is the way journalism works. The big story is the tragedy not the triumph, the horror not the happiness, the corruption not the competence, the sordid sex not the contented marriage.

Why the unhappiness and desire to wallow in the negativity? Part of our fallen nature I suppose, and part of the wound we carry from our own weakness and lack of love. On the other hand, controversy and conflict are not all bad. There is a thesis and antithesis and from the struggle we achieve a synthesis. There is not forward motion without friction. Nevertheless, I want to get away from stirring things up just for the sake of it, and certainly just for the sake of increased ratings.

Finally, there is always the larger application. How often in life do we all do the same thing within our communities, our families and relationships? We stir things up. We gossip and spread negativities simply to get attention for ourselves–to increase the drama in our sad and boring lives. We spread negativities in order to entertain ourselves and garner attention…just another version of increasing our ratings.

May the Lord have mercy.

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