A colleague at work recently shared a Facebook infographic with me from the folks at helpfordepression.com, and it got me thinking. Take a look...
To summarize: People like positive posts (and they're happy to let you know that with the ubiquitous Facebook 'thumb up'). The odd ball in the group is why do people comment more on negative comments? It's because we are infinitely hopeful animals, and when confronted with negativity our natural inclination is to correct it, ie: comment on it. What does this say about humanity, this Facebook-ean sociology experiment? It says a couple things:
1) There is hope for humanity, quite literally. In fact, we are naturally brimming with hope. We want to hear and see positive things and we want the world to know that we like it when we hear and see those things. It's infectious, and on an innate level we want to feel good; we want to feel that hope is alive and well in the world; that this all matters and while we can't always, perhaps, understand nor articulate a grand design, it chugs along for good reasons and, well, hopefully, progresses and gets better. We like hopeful, positive accounts of reality and Facebook shows us that in it's own simplistic way.
2) Positive, good thoughts and observations can be very social-web viral. The counter argument here might be that it's the negative posts that are getting the comments, but having looked at negative posts for years now, the engagement that mostly happens is people trying to get the conversation on to a corrected path, to negate the negativity, so to speak. So, again: people want things to stand right, to be good, to present an optimistic outlook on life and all the many things we talk about that comprise our lives.
There's no question that a good positive quote will get shared. And there's no question that a positive observation will be shared wildly in the social web. The more interesting point is that the negative posts often get corrected, and that little bad pill that got tossed into the Facebook medicine cabinet of life gets washed away with goodness.
So, my message for today: Facebook shows us our nature in tiny glimpses now and then. It shows us what we choose to broadcast to the world and whose broadcasts we choose to engage with, and that window into our souls shows that we are hopeful little creatures, if nothing else. Despite all, we want to hear and say good things. We do, I'm not so sorry to report, usually want the Hollywood ending, or to at least believe that it's out there, and that's a good thing. That's two points for, not against, humanity. How do I know? The ultimate litmus test: a four-year-old. If I asked him: should the world end in a calamitous fireball of unspeakable pain and suffering, or [insert happy ending] guess which one he wants? So when you're out there today kids: spread a little good. You'll be surprised how far it gets you.