Sunday, November 08, 2009

Accentuate the Positive Eliminate the Agnotology

My word of the week is agnotology, defined as the study of fear and doubt. Apparently some in the IT world prefer FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) but I always prefer a word to an acronym. The word came up in a discussion on the practices of big corporations, bit coincided with my personal musings on the prevalence of negative attitudes.

Doubtless there is a lot in this world to be negative about, if that is your bent. More so when we can identify whole industries intent on spreading alarm and consternation to cover unsavoury messages; in this league I of course include politics. But let’s not forget industry and land development, or in Australia, the fight to control precious water resources. Let us not avoid the deliberate misinformation attending the climate change debate.

They are some of the big issues, my interest in examining all of this is how and why it plays out at an individual level. Just from personal observation it would seem that a majority tend to adopt and magnify the negatives in life. I just don’t really understand why negativity should be so popular when it is clearly limiting and debilitating.

Out of all the adults I know I could probably name just five or six who don’t consider themselves to be victims at some level, the most profoundly victimised being able to recount a daily list of ‘I’ve been screwed again’ episodes. In fact, the condition seems to have the ability to self generate, and I presume provide some kind of perverse pleasure. After all, we humans tend to seek pleasure from our activities.

For many years I was dismissed with accusations of just being a ‘Pollyanna’, a condition which apparently victimised those negative people in my orbit, so I was told. Personally I find it a real joy to interact with others of my ilk, those who would dismiss adversity in the belief that regardless of negatives there are always positives to dwell on.

True there are notable conditions which aid negative thought, such as depression. I was recently moved by the words of a prominent Melbourne doctor and writer who observed; no doubt from personal reflection: ‘depression is the in fact a lack of joy’. Simplistic to be sure, and no sure fire remedy, but in many cases I agree with that summary.

There are numerous reasons for us to lack joy, however many seem so trivial in reality and appear to me more an excuse to wallow in that sticky slough of despond, the ‘black dog’ as the Aussie depression commentators would have it. Any innate tendencies to negativity are surely fed by socially generated negativity designed for commercial/political advantage.

Long experience suggests that trying to convert negative thought is a losing game, so we just have to learn to live with each other. In certainly don’t have to knowledge or skills to intercede effectively, but equally will refuse to be sucked in myself. I doubt the old song, still current in my early days – Accentuate the Positive – had any effect in itself, but it still expresses a core belief.


lindsaylobe said...

Hi Cart -
Positivism arises from realistically based expectations – you expect some pain, inconveniences, tragedy and the occasional triumph. If you’re constantly expecting nirvana any hiccup – however minor will seem like a major setback and so on. Not that I am against goals and aspirations but in the process of living a life to the fullest the positives outweigh the negatives providing your expectations are realistic. There is a lot of hype and hysteria about dreaming your way into stardom and success, but striving for excellence is sufficient in itself to provide that great life satisfaction – whereas the degree you’re successful or not won’t always make you necessarily happy.

Best wishes

D.K. Raed said...

from what I see of negative people, there must be some truth to "misery loves company" ... somehow they all find each other and continue the downward spiral ... which can really be drag on us sunshiny personality types!

Cartledge said...

I have had a perfectly positive experience isolated on a bush block NW of Melbourne at a fly spot called Mia Mia. I’m helping to renovate a relocated home for my son and family, and thieves recently took off with essentials like generator and water pump (also draining 10,000 litres of water in the process.)
This a quick trip back to civilization then off to the dry wilderness again. Call me strange but I am finding a lot of pleasure in this process. Hot hard work to be sure, and making do and improvising, but full positive experiences, and hardly a negative word to be heard.
I’ll be back soon.

D.K. Raed said...

actually it sounds like fun ... and a positive thing to do at the same time ... except for the thieves which I'm sure you must be keeping an old baseball bat (or whatever is comprable in cricket) on hand to greet, should they return.