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Why Online Toxic Positivity Needs to End

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By Emma Raho – Staff Writer

 

We’ve all seen the graphics “Good vibes only” “if you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything” or how about “It’s social media, not your journal lol” (usually posted by someone who has written 3 statuses about attending the gym in the last 4 days) which sounds fine on the surface, because who doesn’t want to be around happy, shiny people? However, we’re at a stage now where it’s so forced, it’s cringe at best and toxic at worst. People are curating a showreel of their lives for a panel, rather than communicating authentically with people they consider actual friends and it’s warping our perception of the world around us.  

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are not the problem, the culture we have developed within those platforms is the problem. People are not happy all the time, life doesn’t go as planned all the time, that is just not how it is. We have developed these spaces where only success or good fortune is celebrated. Cries for help or venting is written off as attention seeking or met with“are you ok hun” eyerolling and sniggers. Only seeing people win creates the skewed image that everyone else’s life is great, so if yours isn’t it’s your fault and you are the only one failing. Sucks to be you huh.

 

We’re spending more and more time online and especially on sharing platforms we need to share a balance of our lives without vagueness or staging. The most relatable post I saw today was a friend of mine who hiked to the dairy for milk because she was desperate for a cup of tea, only to drop said milk all over the kitchen floor the moment she returned home. I loved this post, not because I wanted to laugh at her or feel better about myself, but because it was a good reminder this bullshit doesn’t just happen to me. It was real.

Great if you can just decide to feel a certain way but other people can’t and we need to be mindful of this

Mental health issues and suicide rates in New Zealand are at an all time high. Now more than ever we need to be there for our friends and family. We’ve heard plenty about being kind online and it doesn’t take a PhD in human psychology to figure out deliberate meanness and nastiness for the sake of nastiness online is a dick move, but creating a platform of inauthentic and forced happiness is also harmful. If someone is having a shit time let them vent it out and offer some support rather than shaming them for “like, ruining my vibe”. People need to respond to the world and their life with the emotions they choose, not be strong armed into a “just be happy” as if it’s that simple.

 

I’m in no way perfect over here. I have people on my friends list I unfollowed because I felt like they were always complaining about something, so instead of reaching out, I ignored them. On reflection I feel terrible about that and I’m going to try and do better. 

 

Social media as a public sphere should reflect the whole range of human emotions, not just the ones we are most comfortable with.

 

WHERE TO GET HELP:

1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626

Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825

 

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