Assuming the worst…

In my experience, Scottish people tend to think negatively. We are well known amongst global circles as cynics. Our negative outlook seems to match our gruff accent and temperamental climate. Perhaps our outlook is what shaped the amazing contributions Scotland has made to society – television, telephone and antibiotics to name but a few. The strong attitude of the Scottish people and a constant need to improve has saw many life changing inventions come to light. But perhaps I am being a little too harsh on my nation. The need to focus on the bad is likely an inbuilt part of the human nature on a survival level.

When it comes to word of mouth we are more likely to hear the problems people have had with a product/ service before the good. There can be hundreds of sterling reviews but the single, harsh critique will be the one that will become embedded.

Does a few failures really define a person in light of their successes? Society seems to think so. An example comes to mind of a friend of mine. They were a straight A student. Academically they had it all. One single low grade was thrown their way and no matter what happened afterwards they were not able to shake it. That grade erased all of his hard work in the eyes of his teachers, family and friends.

Modern technology with its wide array of social media platforms and websites mean that is now easier than ever to offer your opinion on anything from the latest books/movies to your local plumber. Being a reviewer seems to offer a sense of empowerment. Suddenly everyone’s opinion matters. This is a beautiful sentiment in an ideal world but unfortunately it also opens up the digital world to a whole new aspect of bullying. People are being coerced with the threat of negative reviews, customers strong armed into providing positive ones. Why does this happen? Because we place so much stock in negative thinking. “She is a charitable, hard working person who is dedicated to her family,” doesn’t have as much flair in a discussion as, “She never pays her bills and couldn’t care less about her children.” It doesn’t matter if it is true or not it will still fall harder on the ears than a list of accomplishments ever could.

Maybe by viewing society this way I am just as guilty of ominous thinking as everyone else. There are those out there still willing to give the benefit of the doubt, offering fair criticisms and beaming with pride at the happiness of others. If we could follow this example and dispel our own negativity towards others we would find a contentment we have never known before. That I am sure of. Wouldn’t it at least be worth a try?


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