Finding The Positive
There seems to be something very exciting in the zeitgeist at the moment. Lots of different people from different areas seem to be thinking the same things. People are tired of the “cynicism” “pessimism” “criticising” and instead are calling for more “creativity” “art” or simply asking others just to “do something“. 2013 is clearly about throwing away the negative and finding the positive.
A couple months ago I did a talk for Ada Lovelace Day Live about the lack of women doing science on tv. I facetiously titled my talk “Making The Female Brian Cox”. It was partially based on the silly media idea that all tv science needs to be perfect is a female version of Brian. As if someone like Alice Roberts or Helen Czerski are simply just a knock-off version of the “real thing”. Offensive? Yea. It really, really is.
I talked a bit about how ideas spread in the media e.g. crazy, squealing fans turn up at one of Brian’s talks, he mentions in a newspaper interview that it’s strange for a scientist to have squealing fans turning up at his talks, the idea that he has squealing fans spreads, people read about it in another newspaper and think ‘I’m a squealing fan, too!!!’, more squealing fans turn up, it’s written about some more and on and on.
I then pointed out how this whole discussion about there not being a lot of women doing science on tv was entirely focused on complaining (negative) about the lack of women rather than celebrating (positive) the women who are actually doing it already.
“Become squealing fans of other women!” I implored. “Turn up at their talks and cheer! Start a Fuck Yeah Tumblr! Make noise! Do something positive! People will listen!” I admitted that when I spoke to Maggie Aderin-Pocock after an event at the RI, I got so excited that I actually cried (I had been moved by her breastfeeding her daughter on stage in the middle of being interviewed). “Get so excited about these women that you actually cry!”
It’s too easy to complain about things, to bitch about something that someone else has done, to tell others they’re doing it wrong, to attack, to hate, to be motivated by jealousy. It’s a lot harder to put yourself into something, to invest your emotions entirely leaving no protective barrier and then to say “Here, I made this“…
… but the things that you create will be the only real things you leave behind.
Doing something doesn’t take intelligence or skill or talent. Doing something takes bravery. You have to face your fears and insecurity and doubt. You have to accept that you’re going to be attacked by people too cautious or too cowardly to do anything other than criticise what other people do. That’s scary. That’s terrifying. But doing it will make you feel alive.
(Most boring sentence ever alert) I pissed a few people off on Twitter recently for basically saying this. They were criticising something non-constructively and I basically said “do something or stfu” (as I mentioned on the Pod Delusion podcast today that’s what I think when I read YouTube comments as well…). I mean it though.
In our online connected world, we all have to feed the network. Create, connect. Create, connect. Create, connect. The good things will grow because people will care for and nurture them. The bad things will whither without any intervention at all. But if all you do is attack and criticise and hate and disparage, you will soon lose your connection to the network… because the bad things will whither… Create, connect. Create, connect.
As Matt said in his post:
If you’re choosing to use up some of your limited time on earth to denigrate others’ efforts and rubbish something (however deserving), you need to balance that by putting your own things into the world, too. […] [T]ake a step back and ask why you’re using your energy to put out negativity instead of creativity.