Amusing Ourselves to Death
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Can you remember when television was called the root of all evil? How it was blamed for desensitizing kids and breaking up the family fibre? American author and cultural critic Neil Postman wrote a book about it in 1985, called Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Postman’s argument was that television lessened the educational growth of people, as well as dumbed down arguments, by going for entertainment and images over political discourse and more serious issues.

While there’s no denying that television can be one distraction too many at times, there’s also no doubting its educational uses as well – National Geographic and The History Channel being just two examples.

Jump forward a little more than twenty years, and there’s a new target – the Internet.

It’s being blamed for everything from turning kids into zombies to the disappearance of social skills in the “real world”. But is it really that bad?

Hey Teacher, Leave These Kids Alone.

Far from turning kids into online-addicted mindless zombies, a new study shows that the Internet-savvy youth of today are far more creative than we were. The Digital Youth Research report, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, uses social network giant MySpace as an example. Just creating a MySpace page and customizing it shows a level of creativity and basic programming skills beyond most offline equivalents.

Of course, this report isn’t on the front pages of traditional media for one simple reason – it offers a positive view of the very medium that sells newspapers when the headlines are screaming negatives. If the report had said the Internet and social networking was hurting our kids’ education, you can be sure it would have been a lead story with quotes from “experts” all too willing to lend their view.

But you know something? We’re just as bad at times.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

One of the foremost sayings about social media is how it’s bringing people together. Opening up doors that had previously been locked, and offering help and encouragement to anyone that needs it. Simply put, the caring medium. But it’s not always like that, is it?

How can it be when bloggers are vociferously attacked for writing a sponsored post? Or when people take being “unfriended” by someone so seriously that they decide to investigate to almost stalker-like proportions? Add in the antagonistic comments that bloggers receive for their points of view, and you have to wonder if we really are that social.

So here’s what we need to do.

Accentuate the Positives.

It’s all too easy to be negative about something. By our very nature, human beings are happiest when we’re complaining. We love it when someone jumps the queue so we can open up on them, or our heroes make a mistake so we can bring them down.

Let’s stop this. Now.

Instead, let’s celebrate the good that social media can offer and concentrate on making that the norm, as opposed to the excuse. Let’s tell everyone about the positive thing that happened to us today because of social media.

Here’s an example. Yesterday, I met with a potential new client that found me through Twitter. His company is in the same city as me, so we met up for coffee and discussed a potential project. And even if I don’t win that project, the product he wants me to promote is so good I’ll be using it myself anyway. Without Twitter, he wouldn’t have been aware of me, and I would have been missing out on a great application.

That’s just one example from one person. I’m sure you have tons of examples of your own.

The question is – are you sharing them?

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23 Comments on "Accentuate The Positives"


robert santos
February 28, 2009

Hey, nice navigation. Did you code this theme?

Bob
February 27, 2009

lol. Nice facts. Just like what I am looking for.

johnhaydon
January 12, 2009

I'd agree with Danny. It's all in what you choose to focus the spotlight on. Focusing on something negative, of projecting your own negativity onto something only creates more negativity. Focusing on something positive and projecting positivity creates more value for everyone.

Again, it's about where the spotlight is pointed

John

LizzHarmon
January 11, 2009

Hey Danny. I've become the biggest social media evangelist I know. It's all part of the attitude of gratitude I live by. I start and end each day thinking about those things for which I'm most grateful. When I was much younger I would beat myself up over what I didn't accomplish in a day. Now, I let it go. Same goes with social media. There are naysayers and antagonists in every crowd. They can only drag us down if we let them, and I won't let them. That's the beauty of this medium. You can unfollow or unfriend those you don't want in your life. Live and let live. We all get the the same 24 hours in a day. May as well take the good and share that; it feels so much better. And who knows, you may make someone else feel better too. Bless you my friend. You do excellent work. ~ Lizz

January 11, 2009

I can certainly vouch for your "socialness", Lizz – it's one of the things that stands out about you and what attracts people to you. :)

Like you say, if you don't like something, turn it off. Are you forced to watch a movie you find distasteful? Read a book you find boring? Listen to a song that grates?

YOU have the power to what holds your attention – complaining about something you don't have to participate in seems just a little bit pointless.

Gabe O'Neill
January 10, 2009

Hey Danny,
I couldn't agree with you more. I am relatively new to Twitter and Facebook and what I've discovered is the good definitely outweighs the bad. I have a ten-year-old ans she knows what Twitter is. She also has her own web site: http://www.kidsareheroes.com. If you want to read some uplifting stories, please check it out!

Gabe O'Neill's Recent post…DoSomething Grant

January 10, 2009

I think that's what puts a lot of people off about Twitter and Facebook – there are many negative stories about them (spamming, online "bullying", etc) but not always the positive aspects. It's great to see your little girl involved – they're the future, after all.

I'll be sure to check out her website, sounds like fun! :)

Teresa Hall
January 10, 2009

Hi Danny,
I totally agree! Keeping things positive only leads to more positive, you know? I find that staying upbeat and positive is the fastest way to build my business.

I have started two brand new ventures and met so many great people that I never would have had the opportunity to do connect with if it weren’t for having a positive attitude!

Teresa Hall's Recent post…Heard About the Twitter Cruise?

January 10, 2009

There's your examples right there, Teresa – like you say, you probably wouldn't be in the position you're in now without staying upbeat. There are enough people in the world that would be all too content to bring us down – keeping going is the tough, but ultimately rewarding option.

John Haydon
January 10, 2009

Danny,

Thanks for the kick-ass post. You're talking about the wisdom gained from having a mind/heart of appreciation (my favorite word, which I define as "seeing the value in someone").

John

John Haydon's Recent post…What Makes A Blog Post Anyhow?

January 10, 2009

Thanks John.

As you mention, appreciation of something offers far more insight than a closed mind through dislike or even hatred. Even if you don't like something, there will always be something about it that you can acknowledge worthwhile – just that small view can make the difference.

John Haydon
January 10, 2009

Amen!

January 9, 2009

It can definitely be hard to bite your tongue at times, especially when the words or actions against you or of a particularly harsh nature. Yet dropping to that level doesn't help in the long run – negative people often look for reactions to satisfy them. Turning the other cheek and ignoring them (unless impossible) is the best form of offence.

It's easy to be mean, not always so easy to praise. Glad to have you onboard. :)

Snow Vandemore
January 9, 2009

Danny, this post could not have come at a better time, at least for me. I have been struggling with this very issue and am doing my best not to take the actions of others so personally. The negativity, unfortunately, sometimes spills over into my blog and for that, I am regretful. I have adopted a new attitude, a positive one. I can't control others' actions, only my response to those actions. We all need to think before we publish — on our blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, etc… If you don't have something positive or valueable to say, perhaps you shouldn't say it all. Thanks for your insights.

Snow Vandemore's Recent post…null

Jamie
January 9, 2009

You are so right. I have made a lot of good connections through message boards, learned a lot about networking, made more business connections. Plus, I might have a date too because a LI connection turned into a FB connection and a tweeter follow. Go figure.

Jamie's Recent post…Persistance and your Dream!

January 9, 2009

That's the beauty of social media and social networking – while it's great for business use, there's no denying it's personal use advantages too. You'll have to keep us up-to-date on the potential date thing…

Tim Jahn
January 9, 2009

Funny thing about that book is it was written almost 25 years ago but the content is still relevant to current media. There's definitely a lot of positives about media (I'll be the first to argue that) but Postman isn't entirely full of croc.

By the way, I like the sidebar improvements :)

January 9, 2009

I agree, Tim, some of the points he makes are still relevant. I'd say that we've definitely moved on since the book was written, yet there are still too many parents that allow their kids to be influenced by TV because they just dump them in front of it, switch on and leave. That's who needs to be educated more than the ones that are usually targeted.

fendergurl
January 9, 2009

Great post Danny.

I completely agree with the positive effect of 'social media' and how each conversation COUNTS when we are interacting with our peers or new 'tweets' and contacts out there in the virtual world.

What could prove to be a BETTER influence on our lives in fact, than a network that enables us to get job opportunities, make new friends (in the real sense of the word), learn new skills, and gain information from the knowledge of others in our network…EACH day?!

Let's just enjoy the benefits, and because we are having so many positive experiences as a result – let's be thankful as well.

fg

fendergurl's Recent post…Subscribe to Comments

January 9, 2009

I think this is where the problem may lie, Cheryl – the "old guard" not wanting to let any control slip away from them and therefore they're always wary of anything that could offer just that. As you say, we should be celebrating the openness more than castigating it.

January 9, 2009

I think this is where the problem may lie, Cheryl – the "old guard" not wanting to let nay control slip away from them and therefore they're always wary of anything that could offer just that. As you say, we should be celebrating the openness more than castigating it.

Dan Keldsen
January 9, 2009

"Breathe, breathe the air…"

Great points, and heartily agree. Have heard these arguments every time something new comes along that threatens "the way we used to do things." Why, back in my day, we used to listen to heavy metal and by golly, we DID NOT end up killing people, as it turns out. :)

Grow.Learn.Adapt.Repeat.

Cheers,
Dan

BTW – if you login to comment via intensedebate, it appears the "auto blog post finder" (commentluv?) you're using disappears.

January 9, 2009

There's definitely always something that gets singled out. I don't know if it's fear, ignorance, laziness, or something else altogether. But it does get quite tiresome, for sure.

Thanks for the heads up on the CommentLuv issue, I;ll look into that.