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New Twist on Fake

Have you encountered this yet from your friends? Despite the pandemic, they need to cheer you up. They rebut your every dismay, discouragement, or disappointment with the phrase “It’s all good.” What does that mean?

To me the phrase means, “I don’t care” or “Don’t bother me.” It comes across as dismissive as if what we are saying is not true. At least, we don't want it to be true.

In recent articles talking about this trend, they call this response “toxic positivity.” Instead of listening, offering sincere prayers or expressing concern for you, people are focusing on milquetoast responses. They use our full-blow self-help culture to offer answers in the form of memes and self-help mantras. “Think positive;” “Everything will be OK;” or “I am sending you good vibes.”

I think part of this, is the fact that we put some much faith in the successful. In the person we think is successful, whether sports sensation, music icon, fashionista, or political superstar with whom we want to completely identify. If they win attention or succeed again, then we do. If they are attacked, we feel attacked. So why bring up dismay, when all is right with our world?

In her latest article, “Toxic Positivity is on the Rise,” Catherine Renton in the December 14, 2020 issue of Elle, points out that the pandemic has created gulfs. Not all of us are going through this crisis the same. Some are facing real tragedy and life-altering challenges; some of us are cocooned in our homes, doing fine. Those of us in the latter group may be feeling guilty.

We are treating honest expressions of sadness and honest telling of problems as if we are receiving fake news. Is our friend’s story really that overblown? We may need to discount it or dismiss the magnitude of the crisis on hand. Is that fair to them? Saying COVID is not that bad does not make it so.

It’s good to accept the negative emotions in ourselves or others. It’s good to hear them out – inside our head or outside. Dealing with them will go a lot further in helping us cope with a global crisis, and all the suffering that goes with it, than glossing it all over with toxic positivity.

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