One of the things I believe has caused a shut down between people who actually want the same things in life, happiness and love, but self-identify with toxic ideologies, is unsolicited critique.
One person asserts a point of view, usually by posting an article from some news aggregator, and the other person utilizes a talking point they picked up on Huff PO or Breitbart or wherever to tear it down. It usually gets ugly when the original assertion and rebuttal are metastasized narrow view points whipped up in the messaging cauldrons of the partisan media’s necromantic shitlord champions.
How do you know if you’re guilty of this indecency? Look through your social media feed. If you begin a sentence with “Actually,” you are probably guilty of at least low-level partisan oral diarrhea. If you post shit from an aggregator without any exegetical comment of your own, you have become a human bot enslaved by the media oligarchy to spread their foul beliefs where their black hearted algorithms can’t reach (yet).
Is it really any wonder people are so divided when their main form of communication with each other is a psychic ping-pong game played with balls made of fetid memes?
People on the alt-right, like Milo Yiannopoulis, gleefully call this shitposting. It’s an advanced form of trolling, however, it’s not solely the practice of Klan sympathizers and Call of Duty cosplay 2nd Amendment types. Shitposting is the dominant form of internet communication in 2016.
The grim truth of trolling and shitposting is that it’s pretty enjoyable no matter what your fetishized political orientation. Winding up a dreary and humorless Marxist is as joyful as causing the veins on the forehead of an enraged Planned Parenthood protester’s face to explode. Part of the fun is that you’re getting attention, which is the true currency of this bullshit planet. Attention can be addictive, just look at Kanye.
Some people have attempted to counteract the crushing spread of negativity by posting pictures of kittens and other nonsensical positive messaging. This is like planting an urban garden on a sidewalk in West Oakland. You will feel great for a moment, but when you go visit your work in the morning you’ll find pit bull turds, dope needles, and Hot Cheeto bags where your carefully selected native wildflowers used to be.
You have to be intentional with your positivity. It can’t be generic. It has to mean something to someone. What I advocate is making a practice of actively praising people online and in the real world. It’s super easy. When you see something you legitimately admire, don’t let that warm feeling evaporate inside your head, set it free. If someone did good work, let them know. As long as you’re being honest and not artificially inflating someone’s ego with fake praise, there is absolutely no downside.
Unfortunately, It has to be noted, praising people for their physical attractiveness can get weird and uncomfortable very quick. It’s certainly not always unwelcome (let your partner know how hot they are as often as you can), but be mindful.
With strangers, you’re after something like, “you have great style.” Not “girl those titties are perky as hell.” If you’re having trouble understanding the difference, just stick to bro-ing down with people over cool old motorcycles and sports or whatever.
The work place is a tremendous place to spread unsolicited praise. You can go up or down the chain of command, but when you go up, be careful not to be a brown noser, that’s never a good look. If you’re in charge of people, this is your duty. Most people are not getting paid what they should. It’s probably not your fault as a middle manager, but you can improve morale in your organization by demonstrating you value people’s work. But be warned, people can see bullshit the way they see bad CGI in a movie. Don’t praise someone out of one side of your mouth and shit on them out of the other. You have to be real.
You can do this online, too. I follow a lot of artists and illustrators on Instagram and I try to make a practice of typing some sort of nice message if I see something really cool. I’ve actually made some e-friends this way who have turned me on to cool stuff that inspired them. I would’ve never known about most of it otherwise.
Here’s a seven day challenge (I know people like that sort of thing). Starting from the moment you’re done reading this, offer one stranger a day (online or in person) an unsolicited compliment for seven days. You can do more if you want, but don’t over extend yourself. Observe how you feel after.
The secret to this is you’re really doing it for you. The smile you get back triggers the release of hormones in your body that are the chemical foundation for happiness. It’s hard to top an unsolicited compliment for ROI. My understanding of neuroscience is pretty shallow because it’s based on about half a dozen pop-science books I read, but it seems that the addictive, pleasure inducing chemical you get from shitposting is the same as the one you get from unsolicited compliments.
The best part? It costs you nothing and it will change everything.