Born negative or repetitively nourished on bad news?

Born negative or repetitively nourished on bad news?

I recently sat with someone on a bus, someone I would, unfortunately, award ‘THE MOST NEGATIVE PERSON I HAVE EVER MET’. This guy had all the gruesome stories – muggings, robberies, killings, murders, hijackings, corruption, poor governance, and unemployment – some he heard of, some he saw and experienced here in Port Elizabeth and during his stay in Joburg.

Not that these things are not happening, but that he now emitted a sort of ‘angry-negative persona’ actually scared me – can a person be so angry and negative through and through? He was like a moving library of all dark literature…

I am not sure if his intentions were just to shock me to death but I walked away asking myself if it is only bad stories that he had to share during our journey… and if he indeed had grown to be so negative and angry (owing to his experiences), who was to blame?

The person?

I don’t know if certain kinds of people are born with ‘negativity genes’ embroidered in their DNA, but I think people (generally) have a choice in how they perceive their surroundings.

Unless perhaps there are some unfortunate souls amongst us who can never see good about South Africa owing to their gene make-up. A second possibility was that it may be by choice, like choosing to only focus on the frustrations of life… You know the types that go overseas and only choose to talk about the crime stats back home and never about the beauty of the Karoo, for example.

The society?

Perhaps, we are an angry society and we just don’t want to admit it. And only a few ‘brave’ souls like this guy can openly show it.

This guy was just a sad product of everything negative about us – the difference being that for the rest of us, we just hide our negativity under loads of make-up and clean shaven faces. Which case I would give him the thumbs up for showing everyone really how as a community we have lost the plot.

How many of us secretly relish bad news – and think ourselves better off in light of the misfortunes of others? Or so that we can point out how so and so has failed to govern unlike in a previous era when things were good.

Maybe, we thrive on negativity, buy and share bad news as much as possible so that we can panic ourselves into feeling good…

The media?

When things don’t go well, daggers are usually first drawn at the media – those opportunistic thugs who are always seeking the next gruesome story to sell the next newspaper or magazine edition.

Could it be that this guy is a result of constant negative bombardment by the news media every morning – in the papers or every half an hour – on the radio? Surely constant bad news cannot make people feel positive – bad news has to be bad news in the long run!

The news telling formula does seems like the majority of stories is bad news then as a closing “cat opens doors” clip, as a lighter sigh. Check how the media is frenzied about the Oscar Pistorius case right now.

A movie by Michael Moore called ‘Bowling for Columbine’ suggests that the American people are controlled through the media by ‘fear’. From fears of killer bees from Mexico, terrorists, financial ruin. Moore does make a very compelling argument – not saying that it is what happening in SA.

Still, fact is most of the sad stories happening around don’t even make it onto paper pages or news scripts. And the media do have an obligation to inform – whether it’s good or bad news… I know advertisers also don’t usually like to place ads next to negative stories. And if bad news sells it’s not the media’s fault either – it’s plain business, it’s what readers (you and I) would like buy most!


As individuals, we can choose to be positive in how we look at the world around us. Not saying we should bury our heads in the sand, but I prefer to be pregnant with positivity that to always be the source of dark sadness, anxiety and worry 24/7.

We need to share more good news with our peers and relations… Have everyone tell and share the good things that are happening in this country – the positive strides that we’re making. The media can dedicate more space to feeding us non-stop positivity and we should also make an effort to ‘buy’ more good news.

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