Mette Lisby – Is it just me… – October 2019

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… who gets tired of the negativity that seems to be prevalent in media and online communities? The tone of debates on the internet is harsh and confrontational, and that only seems to be reinforced by the endless news cycles that focus on conflict, confrontation and division. It is not unusual to see guests on political panels yell at each other, and you can see the news anchor smirking, secretly thinking: ‘This is brilliant’.

TEXT & PHOTO: METTE LISBY

I thought it was just the chosen modus operandi of the news business, but then I did some research. It turns out, it’s not them – it’s us! We are all complicit. We encourage it without knowing it. Surveys on this topic have persistently shown since the ‘80s, that we – you and I – perceive negative people to be smarter than positive people.

For instance, a survey pinpointed that, when reading reviews, people by default concluded that the negative reviewers were ‘smarter’ than those expressing positivity. The negative reviewers were perceived as ‘much more competent’.

At first, I was shocked – but actually, it makes quite a lot of sense, sadly. Don’t we all secretly think that people who are smiling all the time are a bit soft? A bit of a looney tune? And if you want to impress someone, if you want to look smart, you don’t smile and tell warm, fuzzy stories. No, you do acerbic lines and critical observations.

Have you ever overheard people discussing a film? It’s an excellent example on this, because it’s always the negative spin on the film that wins. Someone might start out by saying “Oh, I loved it”. And another chips in, “well, yeah I liked it but…” and the criticism starts. Consensus eventually lands on, “well, it wasn’t that great”, and even the person starting out positively ‘loving the film’ concedes that “there were actually some plot holes”. Because nobody wants to be that dopey dork that just ‘loves’ everything.

It’s a fascinating topic, and I wish we would talk more about this. Imagine if we could change our mindsets a little bit and be more positive towards each other.
Oh, and please think again before you discard that idea as ‘stupid’.

Mette Lisby is Denmark’s leading female comedian. She invites you to laugh along with her monthly humour columns. Since her stand-up debut in 1992, Mette has hosted the Danish version of Have I Got News For You and Room 101.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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