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Cynicism, USA

Posted on September 16, 2009 at 9:16 PM




If you’ve read my articles, you know there’s one thing that I tend to avoid: being pessimistic. I know my blogs might say otherwise, but even those are usually a reaction to something that is relevant or maybe a little off, but I try when I can to not to dwell on something “bad” and move on quickly (my movie reviews, for example, are often shorter the worse the film is). However I was going through various videos and blogs during a slow day at work and couldn’t help but notice how many negative entries I was coming across. Movie critiques when the movie is bad to begin with, video game videos often dwelling on bad (and usually old) titles, playthroughs of bad games, retro look backs at bad things, bad comic books and lord knows the sports world is full of every opinion known to man, just listen to any sports talk radio station (which I used to work at, I might add) and they come out of the woodwork the minute someone brings up any topic. Go right for the bad, rarely the good, that’s the internet motto.


This wasn’t some new revelation, we all know that there’s an underlying negative tone to anyone who takes the time to write something on the internet, but I started thinking one simple question. “Why?” Oscar Wilde believed that a cynic was someone who understood the price of everything yet the value of nothing; always looking to either be disparaging while often being selfish in the process (not to mention horribly stubborn). If there’s any outlet that can feed such a view, then it’s the internet.


 

Of course, Wilde was pretty cynical in his remark so what does he know?


The internet simply has a lot more negative chi than positive chi and cynicism is more often amok than Bret Farve retirement parties. People are opinionated, no doubt, and if you give them an outlet and an opportunity to voice their opinion, perspectives and rhetoric they are, most often, negative because the negative is usually the side that people are the most passionate about and the most visceral in wanting to release.  Some might even say it’s therapy. They’re cynical to their dying days, as though they feel they are the last “honest” reviewer, blogger, video maker on the internet. Always looking for the negative first is probably an innate animalistic aspect of humanity, then again as badly as we act towards each other most the time, I do suppose it’s expected.


While I might use my writings as more a celebration of great things, there is a dominant mindset across the world wide web that, to be noticed, you have to be overly negative (or even angry) in doing so.  The truth is, there’s very little positive out there floating amongst the ones and zeroes that allow us the opportunity to communicate with one another, we use that opportunity to make statements, rarely have conversations. Nobody really cares about saying something positive, not when it’s so much easier to be disparaging. Look at a majority of blogs, message boards and videos, and that’s pretty much what you get. It’s a celebration of being negative more than anything. While some things might be bad and deserve to be put down in some form, there’s always a place for that because bad things are a mathematical constant, when things are good they’re often overlooked and not commented on at all. I suppose it’s easier to feign humor and comedy by being negative and point out flaws than to be positive in any form.


 

And that’s really what it all comes down to, isn’t it? To be noticed…be funny….maybe try to be insightful and make a point by playing off the bad aspects of something. Most negativity is a reaction to something bad and a commentary on it, most positive and uplifting things are more an effort to bring something up than to merely react to something and it’s a hell of a lot easier to list the bad parts than it is the good and it’s a hell of a lot easier to be comedic towards the bad on top of that.




My final realization, not revelation I guess as that terms makes it seem as though I never knew, was that people simply have a “me too” attitude when it comes to emulating each other. The more negative there is, the more others will try to copy it. “If you’re going to berate this awful movie, I’m going to berate this other awful movie.”


Even internet celebrities like the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Videogame Nerd, two of the more popular ones, are more renowned due to taking this path. While those two are, at the very least, talented and funny and put an effort out there in terms of writing and comedic ability, there are hundreds more that simply are not. Yet they try to be by attempting to be negative and observational (rarely insightful, mind you). It’s as though they feel that being negative and critical towards something automatically makes it funny and interesting.  They aren’t really purposeful and they really don’t stand by any convictions because they have no conviction. You need insight and an actual point to have convictions. Most just point and mock in an effort to be funny and maybe become famous, but many aren’t smart or funny enough to pull that off.


Pointing out absurdities has become the norm and very few (as in maybe five or six) are actually good at doing it. The rest feel being negative and pessimistic is enough, but who really cares if there’s no effort? Being negative is already a lazily conformist approach in the first place. I liken it to watching TV versus exercising, or eating a salad versus a engulfing that really good hamburger.


Even being overly positive can have its limits. When I review a great film, singing praises gets boring. Hell, I get bored writing it, but it must be done and I try to be insightful in some form, maybe even make sense if I’m lucky. Due to there being a negative spin on, well, everything found on the internet, I’d like to think the effort is at least noticed. It’s a lot harder to gleefully note how great something is than to mock it. I get bored when listing the reasons why something is great, I just don’t understand why those excessively listing the reasons something is horrible do not. I suppose that takes us back to the easy-way argument. The internet is easy to express oneself on, even easier if you are constantly disparaging and panning everything while trying to bring in some kind of aspect of your personality which, let’s be honest, has already been done and done better by others. It all ties into the instant gratification (in being always negative always easy) and self-importance.


Then again, what the hell do I know? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too focused on the negative myself and don’t see a positive slant when it does come along. There is a good quality to being cynical. All I know is that I write a blog, reviews and articles… and at least I know I’m happy in doing so and not always focused on trying to beat a horse that’s already dead and buried.




Signing Off

~JC


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