What’s To ‘Like’ About Negativity?

Call it a coincidence, but twice within the past week I’ve been asked about my pet peeve.

What bothers you?

Some would say punctuality. I’m guilty of being late from time to time, so that’s not my answer. I’m not condoning tardiness. I know it’s disrespectful to the other parties. I just don’t want to be a hypocrite because hypocritical behavior is a pet peeve of mine.

But the first pet peeve that came to mind for me was a no-brainer: negativity on Facebook.

At the risk of setting off a FB frenzy, let me explain. I love the positives of social media – informing viewers of important, interesting news, and sharing photos, milestones and experiences with family, friends and fans.

But here’s the flip side. Rude comments, judgmental statements, unnecessary finger pointing and worse that usually accompany posts on our Hawaii News Now Facebook page. Often, the conversation spirals into downright racist, anti-(insert item of your choice) territory.

What happened to “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” That tried-and-true philosophy goes out the door with social media.

No matter how tragic or innocuous the story, negativity ensues.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

After 19-year-old Castle High grad Alan Danielson died in a skateboarding stunt being towed behind his friend’s truck, someone actually commented, “Darwinism at work.”

That’s just wrong.

A special needs boy burned his hands at Ala Moana Beach Park on improperly discarded hot charcoals. The mother shared her story to raise awareness and prevent pain for another family. But she was blamed on Facebook for “not properly monitoring her son.” Here she is trying to nurse her son’s burned fingers, and so many are quick to point the finger at her and add insult to injury.

There’s another annoying sub-category: people who don’t read the entire story and yet are instant experts. It’s worrisome, to say the least, that so many people launch into a long diatribe based on a headline and don’t bother to look and understand the content.

The example that comes to mind is a recent study about obesity. It found Hawaii had the third-lowest obesity rate of all states. But my story mentioned how it was misleading because Pacific Islanders actually have the highest obesity rate in the country. Our diverse ethnic makeup skewed statistics and made us seem fitter than we are. But no one bothered to read that, and some went off.

It’s our job to engage viewers and create a conversation via digital platforms. But, I admit, sometimes I don’t want to look at the comments because I know, inevitably, they’ll “go there.”

I keep hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but it’s like clockwork whenever any post goes up.

If you don’t “like” this, feel free to comment. No negativity necessary.