Friday, March 28, 2014

In Defense of Negativity

Sisyphus Couldn't Do It Either!
I’ve seen a lot of online posts and lately defaming a segment of the population blithely referred to as “negative people” Naturally, I’ve come to wonder what these folks have done to incur this disproportionate load of cultural wrath?

Doesn’t each individual have a right to a wide array of personal traits and characteristics?  What some people call negative, others simply consider realistic. Researchers have recently discovered that a healthy dose of cynicism in a turbulent, often intensely distressing world, just may be the most prudent, self-nurturing stance a person can take when it comes to enduring and fielding those “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Dark-sided people have lower expectations of the world and, for that reason, are less often disappointed with their fate. Sunny-bunny types face continual disillusionment aside from being a real pain in the butt. At times, I may enjoy a chocolate-covered ├ęclair with gooey custard inside, but if I ate one for every meal, it would make me quite ill. However, due to the preponderance of happy posts, I have to assume that many people genuinely delight in continual sweetness, that perpetually bright-sided mind in all its soul-shattering glory.

Maybe I’m just paranoid about this because I’m Jewish. Jews have a long, hard-earned tradition of big portions of negativity with a heaping side of humor a la self-deprecation. It’s a survival tool as ancient and well-documented as the history of stand-up comedy.

All underdogs experience negative emotions. They are a natural response to institutionalized, omnipresent oppression. The word “negative” conjures up the word “edgy” which connotes walking a line close to the edge of acceptability, pushing the envelope of propriety. This is the domain of outliers, outsiders, a group of people who contribute the lion’s share of creative work to any given culture: people who doubt, who question, who refuse to sit back and smile. 

And meditate on this music fans: how would a room without a roof truly feel? Inadequate? Like a failure?

Now wipe that insipid grin off your face and tell me, once and for all, what’s so bad about a little correctly perceived and appropriately directed realism, er, negativity?