I’ve been thinking a lot lately about positive and negative energy, wondering why it’s so easy for us to ignore the good and instead point at the bad or failed.
My job has me paying attention to big brands and their social media efforts, where misfires can become really, really big news. And the industry media *love* the failures. In just the last week, I’ve seen these headlines:
- 10 Worst Social Media Marketing Fails of 2013
- The Worst Advertising, Guerrilla Marketing and Social Media Screwups of November (on Twitter, the author billed this as the start of a regular, “weekly” story)
- The Top 10 Corporate Social Media Disasters
- Tweeting Bad: The AMA Edition (a semi-regular column featuring brand tweets around an event)
If I’m looking at the glass half-full, stories with these headlines could be useful if they’re sharing lessons: Here’s what you need to do to avoid a similar outcome. A helping hand to say, “Nobody should make the same mistake twice; let these folks have made it first for you.”
But that’s not the intent of these stories at all. It’s more like calling attention to a car crash. Whether a fender-bender or something more serious, it doesn’t matter, they just want you to look at how badly something went.
We see this behavior often: Magazines feature celebrities who look bad in bathing suits. The nightly news tells us everything that went wrong.
Why don’t we celebrate the successes more? Are they that much harder to define? Is it just that there’s less drama in them, so what’s the fun in that?
I came across this quote in John Maeda’s book, “Redesigning Leadership.” It’s not directly related to what I’m talking about, but it’s in the same neighborhood:
is thinking how positive acts often go unrewarded; negative acts always remain unforgotten. The choice is yours.
— johnmaeda (@johnmaeda) December 12, 2008
Taking an effort needs to be worth it simply for the internal sense of achievement. You must believe what you’re doing is making a positive impact, whether for yourself or others. The celebration comes from within.
Now, even with the best of intentions, that thing may not succeed. But you learn, and you move on to the next thing, even while critics spend their time hating on what you’ve done.
It’s just a shame there’s that negative contingent — whether it stems from jealousy, laziness, or spite — that feels the need to spotlight someone’s failed efforts. Seems it would take just as much energy to lend a helping hand as it would to knock someone down.