May 17, 2015

I’ve heard from a couple of people lately that they’re not impressed by the amount of negativity on my social media accounts lately. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, mostly because I hadn’t intentionally been more negative, so I looked through the statuses I’d posted lately on my accounts. I’d guess about half of my recent posts on Twitter could be considered negative in some way; if you look through Facebook, the percentage is much smaller.

So why do some people notice the negativity? In my specific case, I think part of it is that a lot of the “happy” posts I used to put on my main account have moved to other places, like Justin Russell Photography and re:bangor. And in general, I think people tend to notice and gravitate to negativity more than positive posts (this is basically the business model of a lot of cable news, actually). Still, the thought of being considered a negative person bothers me.

Looking through the posts made me realize something else: it can be tough to read between the lines on social media.

It’s been a really rough few months for me. I’ve tried to cover when I’m with people and when I’m online, but it’s there. There’s not any single cause; it was a combination of a number of psychological blows that’ve knocked me to the ground. Luckily things have gotten better, and I never reached a point where I felt scared or out of control of myself, but the fact remains that I’d been having a tough time.

Granted, the majority of social media users aren’t psychologists. But when you see posts from the people you know well – or the people who you may not – do you think about what might be going through their mind as they write a post?

Never be afraid to ask if someone’s ok. And in a venue where attacks and argument seem to be the norm, try to thank or recognize someone publicly for what they do every once in a while.

I’m going to make a focused effort to follow that advice in the coming months (along with other more positive posts). I hope you’ll join me.