Positive Thinking

The internet is a wonderful thing most of the time.  Thanks to the internet, both detailed knowledge and general information are more readily available to the masses than at any other time in history.  With countless news sources available the average person can keep on top of world events with ease.  With a simple search using a few keywords you can learn how to knit or how to rebuild a car engine.  You can find a new recipe for tonight’s dinner, or you can learn about astrophysics.  Philosophy, mathematics, foreign languages, history, and instructions on any style of art are all available for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge base.  We have even begun to enter the age of free access to college courses (with the understanding that you are learning for the sake of learning and not in pursuit of a degree).  Looking for entertainment?  The internet has that too.  Games, movies, television, music; anything you are interested in can be found.  You can reconnect with old friends, or you can make new friends.  The possibilities are endless; all thanks to the internet.

With so many positive things available to the masses, it saddens me to realize just how much negativity there is out there right beside all of the good things.  Every one of the major news outlets only reports on stories designed to be sensational and draw in more page visits.  As such, we are bombarded with stories of murder, abduction, child abuse, racism, animal abuse, terrorist occupations, terrorist attacks, and political stories that are deliberately presented in a way to incite the masses to argue and fight with each other.  And it is working.  A few days ago, a woman I know asked a question on social media.  It was an innocent enough question, and Person A commented with an answer for her.  At this point, Person B jumped into the comments and started calling Person A names and slinging insults.  The situation devolved from there, and reading through those comments made me feel as though my head was going to explode.

The internet gives us a sense of anonymity.  When we sit down at our computer keyboard (or with our smartphone or tablet) to write out an email, social media update, or blog post, there is a separation between us and the people we are interacting with.  This can be a good thing in certain situations, but more often than not it leads to people thinking it is okay to say awful, mean, and hurtful things to other people.  These people are willing to write things they would never dare say to someone’s face because there is no fear of reprisal since they feel safe in the knowledge that they are anonymous.  In the case of my friend’s question, Person B accused Person A of being a bigot because they have differing views on a certain subject.  Now, I do not know either of these people, but I would be willing to bet that if this conversation had happened in person, Person B would not have been willing to say any of the horrible things that she wrote online for the world to see.

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet knows that you “do not feed the trolls” because it is an exercise in futility.  Even with the knowledge that there are people out there who thrive on stirring up trouble, I just do not understand it.  How have we allowed our society to fall so far that the rules of common decency and courtesy no longer even enter into these people’s minds?

The situation described above led me to write my own general post where I stepped up on my virtual soapbox and ranted about this problem and the meaning of freedom of speech.  Here is a copy of that post:

I am so tired of people attacking each other on social media. Each and every person alive has their opinion on the “hot topics” and just because somebody disagrees with your opinion does not give you the right to attack them and call them names. Freedom of speech does not mean that people can say what they want as long as it is in sync with your views. It does mean that we can each speak our belief on a topic and if you disagree you can:
1. Ignore the person
2. Stop being friends with the person
3. Listen to the person, and form reasoned arguments to use in a discussion based on what they have to say.

Freedom of speech is just as much about allowing people to shout views diametrically opposed to your own as it is about allowing you to state your views. And without both factors in play there can never be an open and honest dialogue on these topics, which is the only way to create a better society for all of us to live in. If you attack a person and start name calling there is no chance of changing that person’s mind because they will dig in and return attack rather than listen to you.

And before anyone tries to turn this post around on me…
1. I do not care, even a little, what color a person’s skin is.
2. I do not care, even a little, what a person’ sexual orientation is
3. I do not care, even a little, what religion a person believes in.
4. I DO believe that every person deserves respect as a human, regardless of if you agree with them or not.

Okay, this post is a bit longer than I intended…

Stepping off the soap box now.

After I posted the above rant, another friend of mine, romance author Mistral Dawn, invited me to check out the Positivity Blog Tour that she and several other authors are participating in for the month of June.  Each of these fine ladies have their own reasons for taking part in the Positivity Blog Tour, but it comes down to the fact that they saw the need for more positivity in the world and decided to do something about it by devoting the month of June to discussing and promoting positivity.  This could not have come at a better time for me personally, and I would like to thank them for their efforts!  Here is a list of links to each author’s blog, and I would like to encourage all of you to check them out!

In addition to the ladies on the Positivity Blog Tour, I follow another author who does his part to spread positive vibes by promoting  his favorite charity.  Patrick Rothfuss heads up a couple of fundraisers each year in support of Worldbuilders, his nonprofit group that raises money to support Heifer International.  His latest fundraiser, Geeks Doing Good 2015 was, as always, a resounding success!  The goal was to raise $25,000 in 8 days, and as of this writing there is 3 hours left and a total of $245,821 has been raised!  That is a whole lot of positivity, both from Mr. Rothfuss and every one of his fans who contributed to this worthy cause!

On another positive note; tomorrow marks 6 months since my daughter underwent her second open heart surgery and she is doing amazing!  In the last 6 months, she has grown like the proverbial weed!  For those of you new to my blog, she was born with a group of heart defects called Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia.  It has been a stressful two years with a total of five trips to Gainesville for surgeries or other procedures.  I have learned so much over these past two years, not the least of which is perspective. We learned early on that as bad as we thought our situation was, there were so many families going through something worse.  That realization gave my husband and me the ability to be positive while facing the worst time of our lives, and that positivity paid off.  We have a happy beautiful little girl who has taught us what it means to be strong.

My point is, without making a deliberate effort to seek out positive people and events in our lives and the world at large, it is easy to get bogged down in the overwhelming negativity found all around us.  So it is up to each of us to chose the positive over the negative. We must choose to seek out the silver lining in whatever this life puts in front of us.  What do you do to stay positive in dark times?  I would love to hear from you in the comments!