Perilous Tech

Occasional thoughts on technology and social issues

Positivity: Just as Toxic as Negativity

Are you a person who’s decided to cut toxic people out of your life? Maybe to you, that means you go on to Facebook and just delete the people that post stuff you don’t like. Regardless of your meaning, I’m pretty sure that 100% of the time this is removing people viewed as negative.

I’d like to challenge your thoughts on this and add that positivity can be just as toxic as negativity. Don’t believe me? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Not a day goes by where I don’t see people giving others a hard time for not being positive. These accusations can lead the person who isn’t overly positive to think somethings wrong with them. Well, there isn’t anything wrong with them. Here’s a dose of reality, positivity and self-esteem have never solved a single problem. Not a single one, so don’t feel bad if you don’t walk around this world with positivity dust flying off your wings.

Warning: Let me add that the focus of this post has to do with professional and creative circles. Family and close personal friends are a tricky subject and often aren’t so cut and dry. So use your best judgment in these cases.

Negativity Gets A Bad Rap

Negativity gets a bad rap these days. Well, not negativity in the traditional sense, but what people perceive as negativity nowadays. Negativity has become everything from indifference to just about anything that isn’t morbidly high levels of positivity. This applies to people who may be skeptical, questioning, or even just want to do a bit more research.

I love knowing how things work. I study many different subjects just because I’m interested in them. If someone suggests I do something differently, I like to know how that’s more beneficial than what I’m doing now. So I may ask questions. It doesn’t mean I think they are stupid or their approach to something is wrong. I’m genuinely curious and as such open to new ideas. I have no problem changing my mind in the face of fresh evidence. This concept may seem like common sense, but to many questioning is a form of negativity.

Constructive criticism is dead.

Constructive criticism is dead. Done, Done, Donesky. Criticism in any form nowadays is considered negative. Viewing this constructive criticism play out in creative circles can be hilarious as people take simple, unimportant things personally.

These days when people ask for feedback, it’s to look for validation of their work, not for any criticism whatsoever. Any feedback that doesn’t line up with expectations is viewed as someone being a hater. It’s easy enough to discount opinions in specific areas especially artistic cones. Art is subjective, so even if you farted in a mason jar and sold it on eBay maybe some weirdo would buy it (there are a lot of strange people out there), but you are delusional to think that somehow you are going to achieve any mainstream success. To the best of my knowledge Christie’s has never auctioned off a fart, however, if I’m wrong, I’m happy to be challenged on it.

Do you want to get better at what you do? Don’t cut out all of the haters or people you view as negative. Just don’t surround yourself with them. They may have valid points in their feedback, and you just may not care for their delivery style.

Inspirational Quotes


I love this because it’s so true. Successful people are too busy … well … being successful to sit around sharing inspirational quotes. If they are sharing inspirational quotes, then they are selling something and have some agenda.

You may point to someone and say well, here is an exception to the rule. Eh … maybe. A little look below the surface may reveal that person is not as successful as you may think. Their outward facade may completely fall away with just one tiny crack. After all, everyone is honest and truthful on social media, right?

Positivity Has Set You Back

Achieving success in this world isn’t merely a measure of the level of want and amount of work.

Your parents lied to you. You can’t be anything you want so sorry if I am just now breaking this to you. Achieving success in this world isn’t merely a measure of the level of want and amount of work. It doesn’t work that way. Once again, anyone who says different is selling something. Hell, you can even add natural talent to the mix and success is still is not a given. It can be downright terrifying when you think of the sheer luck that may be required on top of everything else for you to be successful depending on your field of endeavor.

So where does positivity fit into all of this?

High levels of positivity and self-esteem give you an entitlement and put you at a disadvantage. You may not think about it that way, but subconsciously this is toxic to your success. It grants you a justification to write off aspects of your approach, risks, as well as failures. People with high levels of positivity and self-esteem are more narcissistic and get defensive when anything challenges their beliefs.

Thinking positively lets you off the hook, it means when something gets hard instead of planning for it you think positively instead. Leaving certain aspects that could be accounted for up to chance. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

People with high levels of positivity and self-esteem also will often take things that aren’t even about them or have nothing to do with them as a personal attack. After all, regardless of what you are talking about it must be about them in some way. Right?

Positive People Around You

Surrounding yourself with people who are overly positive is toxic because many people who exude this positivity aren’t being real with you. They are telling you what you want to hear because, hey, that’s what being positive is all about.

Look no further than aging rock stars who surround themselves with people that tell them everything they do is incredible. They end up torturing the world with some complete crap they created, but everyone around them is reaffirming how wonderful it is.

The Never Settle Mindset

We’ve come to hear this so often that it has become ingrained in our psyche. But why not settle? Maybe setting in a spot is exactly where you need to be. Perhaps it’s best for you and everyone involved. A massive problem in our society today is everyone is so ingrained in their positions that they aren’t willing to listen to anyone else. This is not a good path for a productive way forward.

Silver Lining

Here’s the silver lining, you can be optimistic and upbeat without thinking positively. That is the right balance.

Be Real

People love rags to riches stories. So-in-so quit their job and took a chance. They were living the street and now they are worth millions of dollars. The story of Jewel is another one that used to be talked about in musical circles. She was homeless living in her car at one point. She went on to be a star. In each of those situations, there was always luck playing a part. Jewel was discovered playing in a coffee shop. Now, imagine if the singer of the band Rust didn’t like coffee.

If you think real instead of positive then that means you are better prepared for whatever challenges come your way.

If you think real instead of positive then that means you are better prepared for whatever challenges come your way. The roads of the past have been paved over many times and may shoot off in other directions now. What worked for someone in the past may not work in the future. It takes a sense of awareness to see these new paths to the destination you want to get to.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take chances or go for it. Quite the opposite, if you are being real then your chances will have far more accounted for. To go back to Jewel, she was playing that coffee shop because she was out there grinding it out. If you don’t do anything, then absolutely nothing will ever happen. But if you need to use positivity to talk yourself into a risk, then you most likely haven’t done your homework. Your chances of success will go down significantly. But hey, at least you’re positive about it.


Here is a little ray of sunshine for everyone, hope and optimism are two words that haven’t been perverted by the implications surrounding positivity. Be hopeful and optimistic about your endeavors, but be realistic about the work and feedback you receive. Get excited because you are now ready to take that step, whatever it may be.

Don’t surround yourself with overly positive people and expect them to be real with you. It’s not going to happen, and you aren’t going to grow. If you need them, then don’t forget to sprinkle a few “haters” in there as well. It will keep you honest.

If you are still a true believer in the power of sheer positivity, then go ahead and write this post off. Take it personally like I am talking directly about you and write me off as a hater. Surround yourself with people who aren’t real with you and never challenge yourself. Let’s see how far that takes you.

One thought on “Positivity: Just as Toxic as Negativity

  1. R. Michae says:

    I agree completely. We live in a culture of echo chambers. Disagreements are now seen as personal attacks and critiques are equal to intolerance. It is absurd. Wonderful post!


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