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Honors Blog | Bridging the Social Distance | Luke Wiedeman

Luke Wiedeman with his dog in a landscape

There has been one common euphemism uttered by many college students that I think is very applicable to our current situation, and that is “I don’t need that negativity in my life.” I don’t think this is necessarily true, at least relative to certain really big scenarios. You see, I think, in some instances, negativity can be a good thing, and these are a few reasons why that is true, and one reason why it isn’t.

First, it’s possible that negativity is a catalyst for change. Take, for example, certain article posts/”news stories” on social media. I came across a couple of posts from some news sites warning about the potential consequences of an overwhelmed healthcare system. Those articles scared the snot out of me, but moreover, it made me want to do something about it. So yeah, negativity can spark change, but that change is dependent upon the right people seeing the negativity. In this example, you would either need 1) lawmakers or executives (i.e. police officers) to see the article so they could make laws or take action to reduce the effect, or 2) the ignorant people to see it so that maybe they could educate themselves on the situation, or simply realize the danger that they are posing to the public and the risks that they are exposing them to.

Another way that negativity sparks change is that the ignorance of it only escalates the crisis at hand. A recent example that I found relevant is the Fukushima disaster in 2011, when an earthquake or more accurately, the resulting tsunami, damaged a nuclear power plant in Japan that caused the meltdown of three reactors. In later assessments and reports, it was determined that while the facility could withstand seismic damage from an earthquake, it couldn’t withstand the flood damage caused by a tsunami, which ultimately led to the meltdown. In both this example, and the situation at hand, fail-safes or procedures put in place to mitigate damage, would have greatly lessened the gravity of these disasters.

Now, I’m not saying that negativity is either good or bad, I’m saying it’s necessary for us to be realistic. We all need positivity, or optimism, in our lives to get through the hard times. Take for example, the Revolutionary War. If we hadn’t been so optimistic, we would still be under the reign of Great Britain. In fact, many conflicts, both nationally and globally, have had the results they did because of the positive resolve of the people. But we also need a little negativity, or realism, in our lives to balance out that optimism and make sure it doesn’t become ignorance that escalates whatever problem we might find ourselves in. Whether it’s a call to action or a word of caution, negativity is a necessary evil to get through life.


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