Last week I made the case for embracing negativity despite the social stigma that often comes with sharing honest thoughts and feelings. Further analysis has led me to conclude that those who insist on widely broadcasting positive vibes—at the expense of inconvenient truths—are exercising a form of privilege.
Prisoners, homeless people, cancer patients, and parents who have survived their children don’t have the luxury of mindless optimism. If they exhibited even a small amount of it, their sanity (or sobriety) would likely be questioned by the same people who are so beyond having problems that they lack the vocabulary to describe them beyond abstract notions of what God or “the universe” have in store. These spiritual see-gooders seem to believe that the only thing true in life is false bliss. I say “false bliss” because even an emoji isn’t happy all the time.
I say “see-gooder” because it sounds funny.
In the name of increasing positivity on an increasingly hopeless planet, these see-gooders do not seem to recognize the consequences of their half-full thinking. It makes sense that they wouldn’t because an advantage of unchecked positivity is failing to see any of the negative corollaries.
While many see-gooders are apolitical or even progressive in their orientation, what could be more convenient to the conservative ruling class than an army of smiling minions ready to promote the brighter side of capitalist exploitation and social decay? When I picture where the United States and other advanced capitalist nations will be in just a few decades, the dystopian corporate ruling apparatus—in the form of a crude, Trump-like robot that can read our thoughts and is connected to every stationary and mobile device—sustains itself by punishing individuals like myself with steep fines for daring to challenge the view that happiness is a natural byproduct of a consumer society bolstered by unchecked greed and that human beings should strive for such a shallow enterprise. It’s already an established fact that those who challenge the value of money are punished by being forced to make less of it. If this means that these anti-corporate rebels cannot provide for their basic needs, the corporate masters could give less than a toxic-waste dump about it.
Whose side are the positivity people on when that happens? And it will happen because it’s happening already.
Do the see-gooders blithely follow the status quo, or do they find common cause with the cynics? The cynics, after all, are actually the idealists—which is just a fancy (and less made-up) word for “see-gooder”—because no true cynic would posit that it takes more than money and the expansion of markets to make a person happy. This is a point lost on everyone who doesn’t think (or live) critically enough to be negative.
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