Why You Should Be More Positive Online

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We have all seen the rampant and ugly negativity that is so commonplace on the internet. You might see a horrible news story, or the combative arguments that are the standard for most places online. We so often think of politics, but it even gets heated in the more mundane and less tense parts of the internet, such as video game flame wars or Reddit comments about some guy’s apartment. What you might not have seen, if you get sucked up in the whirlpool of negativity, is all the amazing people sharing great content and positivity online.

The internet brings anonymity if you want to hide behind a username or a fake name, and as a result we see hateful comments and trolling. According to a 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences, roughly 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in personality trait such as narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and sadism. I challenge you to try and be sincere and positive in your time online. After all, you’re just wasting your own time by spreading negativity. I understand that it can be fun to get a reaction out of someone, but it is so much more fulfilling to establish real meaningful connections. I recognize that those people are always going to be out there but you don’t have to respond. The best response is to kill them with kindness and just move on. Life is too short to get into these little spats. The internet is a tool, and like all tools, it can bring good results, bad results, or nothing at all if left unused. Now troll comments can get replies and are generally low effort, but being sincere and happy or even just polite can lead to a meaningful connection. Whether it is a private message or public, you never know how important your feedback might be to someone. Some of those negative comments can really get a person down at times, and the positive comments can help remind that person, that most people are enjoying the content they share. Conversely, these positive comments can lead to meeting new people and sharing great ideas or advice.

 And then I said he looked fat and he responded in all caps!!!

And then I said he looked fat and he responded in all caps!!!

 

This is a great way to network or even just reach more followers. Most people love positive and happy people. Who can blame them? Our moods are infectious and being around positivity will spread to yourself and others around you. Now the internet may seem like a big place but when you break it down to one person’s website, blog or even a forum, it becomes a somewhat smaller community. Now some of these communities are still huge, but in most places you frequent, you begin to recognize people. Over the years I have made a few contacts online, including a couple where I have met the person in real life after talking online for years. Recently I have had some truly great interactions with genuinely interesting people. Spend enough time contributing yourself, and you may even begin to start to make connections. It is easy to scoff at internet relationships as not real but as humanity goes further into this digital rabbit hole, it would be wise to treat it with a bit more respect.

You never know who you will reach. This may sound cheesy or unlikely, but I assure you that it is not. One thing I love about Twitter is each post shows a counter for “impressions.” Now, it would be very easy to obsess over these metrics from Twitter, but what I appreciate is seeing any number. I love that I can have a random thought or insight, and be able to share it online. Even better is the assurance that someone out there saw it. I know not every post gets a hit or share or whatever, but it is encouraging that people out there are reading your content. This is especially so if you are sharing a meaningful message or even just spreading positivity. I made a coworker laugh earlier this week and thought nothing of it, but an hour later I got an email thanking me for lightening the mood as she was having a bad day. It’s great to hear positive feedback and it is so easy to leave a quick note when something reaches us. We are all too busy these days and it is so easy to just move one, but I try to leave a comment every once in a while, when I like something. Or add a thought to a retweet to make it a little more personal. With just a little effort you can brighten someone else’s day and often that positivity has a habit for coming back around. We like to call this karma, but it is a real thing with real world impacts.