In recent months I’ve come to realize what my psychology (and statistics) professors meant by ‘Negative Response Theory.’ Essentially, people who are unhappy with a given situation are more likely to go out of their way to voice their opinions than people who are happy with the same situation. This skews all polls (as people with a grumpier outlook on the situation will go out of their way to participate while content people won’t) and makes having a blog somewhat unnerving. Here’s what I mean:
We write a lot of posts about the places we visit, and the people we talk to or the experiences we have. Its meant to be a fun travel website that really documents our journeys and has a bit of information on what we experienced, heard or saw. Nevertheless, total strangers go out of their way to point out flaws in the website. It is very rare that a total stranger goes out of his or her way to point out something good. Perhaps our site is total crap, or perhaps this is a perfect example of negative response theory. It is depressing because our culture trains us to be critical thinkers, which most of us view as a good thing, but some people just take it too far. Now we have a nation of amateur lawyers trying to find holes in every argument, conversation or passing phrase. To an extent this is healthy, but by and large I’m starting to think that Americans can’t enjoy anything anymore because they never stop questioning things.
But, and this is why it is depressing, Americans hardly ever seem to take action. I hear people complain all around me about the government, taxes, their township, etc., but instead of taking meaningful action they vent their frustrations by leaving negative and critical feedback everywhere they visit on the web. The web is now the world’s largest therapist as it offers a way to interact with the world by venting your built up frustrations and redirecting your anger at more meaningless (and therefore manageable) problems. For example, we’ve had a lot of people attack a post we did on a one day trip to Malaga. People go out of their way to leave an ‘I disagree!” comment, often without even reading the original blog post! We reserve the right to approve or deny all comments posted on our site, and are sad to report that some comments were so full of hatred and vile that we did not ‘ok’ them. We have children reading the site for goodness sakes! But the real issue is why someone, anyone, would get so upset about a random post on a random travel site. Methinks the issue lies elsewhere, but it doesn’t stop be from losing a lot of the passion I used to have for writing these posts. In a country where freedom of speech reached its pinnacle, I feel completely suppressed because it no longer matters what I say– someone will exercise their right to speak against it, even if they have no idea why! Here’s what I mean:
See, the poor guy was just trying to play ‘Dust in the Wind’ on his fake guitar. He isn’t hurting anyone, and yet people went out of their way to be rude. If they didn’t like it they should have navigated away from the page, which is what I suggest you do if you don’t like our website. Nobody is forcing you to read it, after all.