I am a pessimist, and I have a negative outlook on life. I know it; I own it; I’m trying to change it. Or rather, I’m trying to modify it. I don’t want to ever be a blind optimist, though I know they live longer. It’s a funny twist of life–optimists live longer*, but pessimists are more realistic about life. Anyhoo, I’ve been thinking of negativity vs. positivity a lot this week because of several things I’ve seen/heard on the internet. One is a post on Ask A Manager about a coworker being relentlessly (I initially typed resentfully, which is a Freudian slip If I’ve ever written one) positive and forcing others to be positive as well. The reaction in the comments was swift and brutal–the coworker must be murdered, and no jury would convict. I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, because that was my response as I read the letter as well. The comments touched on the toxic positivity mentality that is prevalent in America (and I went down the rabbit hole of suggested links, also about this kind of forced positivity), which struck a chord in me.
I can hear you thinking, “Minna, what does this have to do with video games?” My response is, “Relax. I’m getting there. I’m just taking my sweet time as is my wont.”
I listened to the latest RKG podcast for producers, and one of the questions was from a supporter who had secured a job in games journalism. His main question was just asking for tips on how to be a good writer in the field, but he also touched on his guilt at being a white cis het man in a field that is, well, glutted with them. I’ll get to the second part later, but it’s the first part that ties in with the positivity/negativity theme. Gav went off on a rant about how he hated it when people immediately tore down something as their go-to. He was speaking specifically in the industry, and he said it was his pet peeve how people just wanted to rip on something new. Rory was in agreement with Krupa being a bit more tempered. Krupa pointed out that it’s not easy to write a negative opinion/critique well, which I agree with, but he wasn’t as on board with the ‘don’t be negative’ thing (possibly because he’s the problem solver in the bunch).
Gav said there was someone on Twitter that he follows who always is snarky about something new coming out. Again, I’m assuming in the field. The example he gave was the new Jurassic World movie in which apparently Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum are appearing in. He’s super-excited about it, and the aforementioned guy on Twitter posted something snarky about it. Gav was like, “Why can’t you just enjoy it for a second? Maybe it’ll suck, but why not just revel in it right now?” He didn’t say ‘revel’, but you get the picture.
Full disclosure, I’m touchy about people policing other people’s Twitter/FB TLs/Feeds because I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like what other people like and because I’ve had it done to me. Someone got mad at me because I posted so much about cold and snow on my FB page (heard about it through someone else), and I saw another FB friend post something about why do people who hate Christmas have to talk about it? Why couldn’t they just keep it to themselves? I hadn’t posted anything really anti-Christmas that year, but she certainly knew how I felt about it. I’m sure I wasn’t in the forefront of her mind when she posted her rant, but that’s kind of my point.
Here’s the thing. Those of us in the minority are usually well-aware that our opinion is not usual. Many of us keep 90% of that shit to ourselves for that very reason. Small example. I was at Cubs yesterday and exchanging pleasantries with another customer. I said something about the sun being so bright, and she said, “At least there’s no snow!” I laughed and said nothing, and we went our separate ways. Had I been true to my feelings, I would have blurted out, “I fucking love snow!”, but it wasn’t necessary to say that to a stranger.
Here’s the other thing. When you are in the majority about something, you vastly overestimate the times you hear about the opposing opinion.** Or rather, you don’t notice how many times your point of view is being vocalized. If you live in America, you can’t fucking escape Christmas starting from the day after Thanksgiving (actually before, but I’ll be generous). It’s everywhere, and it’s annoying as fuck if you don’t actually like Christmas/are indifferent to it/don’t celebrate it. Let’s say you read three posts on Facebook in a week about how Christmas sucks. You probably read a hundred pro-Christmas posts in the same time-frame, but because you like Christmas, it doesn’t even register in your brain.