I’m actually kinda a fan of Facebook. I like sticking my head in there and seeing what’s going on in the lives of the people I don’t get to talk to for long stretches of time. But I’ve come across this…thing…where people talk about how bad Facebook is for you, because it makes you compare your lives to everyone else’s, who all seem to have it better than you, more to together than you, more whatever than you. This generally a lead in for lectures on mental health, the power of positive thinking and Gratitude.
I use the capital letter there deliberately. Gratitude seems to have become a mental fashion accessory, sort of like an upcycled pair of jeans for you mind. We can’t just thank someone nicely anymore. We have to break little moments into bite-sized pieces and savor how grateful we are that things are wonderful.
*cough* Okay, yeah, this annoys the crap out of me. To be fair, I imagine people doing this Gratitude thing are getting something out of it – even if they started just because it was the hip new thing. It’s just for some reason, people going, “I’m so grateful,” or “I’m so blessed,” just irritates me.
Maybe the reason I don’t like it is because it makes having a bad day seem unreasonable. At first read, that statement seems like a great thing – the whole “power of positive thinking (or God, depending on your religious notions)” will fix everything.
The thing is…bad days happen and they’re not created by a bad attitude. They just are. No amount of prayer is going to keep everyone you love from harm all of the time; no amount of positive thinking it going to make every project an out-of-the-ballpark success. Things go wrong, people get sick, cars break down, accidents happen. Bad days happen. Suggesting that you should be “grateful for what you have,” just belittles other feelings, like stress, self-doubt and grief.
Or at least that’s what it does to me. I do hope someone is getting warm fuzzy feelings of out of this trend.
It’s not that I’m not grateful for things. I am. I really am. But I try not to brag about them and I don’t do this, “Things are so terrible but at least the sky is pretty today,” in an attempt to make anything that sucks all better. Because it doesn’t. It can take the raw edge off your day, sure. It can give you hope that it will all get better someday. It just doesn’t fix it. And it creates a false expectation that it should.
You may not agree and that’s fair. I’ll admit by attitude towards this could be described as a little abusive, but I’m feeling the need to get my opinion off my chest.