Happy posts!

18 02 2009

It seems like almost all blog posts are about something negative (I’m definitely guilty of this). And the more negative, the more likely it seems to be that the blog is widely read. Well, why? Why would we rather read about things we don’t like than things we do? Why would we rather read stories that make our blood boil than read about things that make us smile? And why is it so much easier to write the first type of post?

Except for a small number of the blogs I read, I’m more likely to be either annoyed, smug, or depressed after reading the day’s posts than before I read them. That’s bad. And since I’ve been (and probably will continue to be, since it’s so much easier to do posts of that sort) guilty of this sort of thing, I can’t help but be curious about why. And so now, forward the wild speculation!

I said I often feel smug after reading these posts. So maybe that’s the first reason right there: we get to feel superior to the subject of the post, rather than having to be sympathetic toward them, and even admitting that they might be perfectly nice, intelligent people who happen to disagree wtih us.

Another reason I could sort of see is related to that: we don’t have to think. Negative posts aren’t nuanced. They’re straight forward, black and white. Factual posts are nuanced, but even when dealing with complex ideas they aren’t as complex and difficult to deal with for most of us as ambiguous moral, emotional, and empathetical (is that a word?) topic. So we get to turn off our brains and just read. But this one is only applicable to why we like highly critical posts, not why we like post about things we don’t like.

More on topic, maybe we’re often more concerned with stopping the things we don’t like than with aiding the things we do? For instance, would you be more motivated to stop creationism from entering a school’s curriculum, or would you be more motivated to help improve an already ID-free but poorly done biology class?

And I guess this all makes writing happy, positive posts harder because the audience is generally tougher to please. Although I think there’s more to it than that, I’m not sure what exactly that might be.

But the strange thing is, despite the fact that I’m more drawn to negative posts, I personally at least enjoy positive posts more when I actually read them. So my advice to you, gentle readers, is to add a few positive blogs to your reading list. After you read Pharyngula, go read stuff like The Meming of Life. It’s fun! =)

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One response

23 02 2009
Dale

would you be more motivated to stop creationism from entering a school’s curriculum, or would you be more motivated to help improve an already ID-free but poorly done biology class?

Boy, you are right on the money here. The latter is actually a much more common (and insidious) problem — evolution included in a yada yada way, for example. My son had that.

(And thanks for the shout-out!)

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