Why are negative emotions so much easier to relate to? Negativity seems to be the order of the day and positivity seems a bit to unrealistic. When you look back at media from the 1950’s everything was so cheery and full of optimism. Everyone truly believed their life would get better and everything would work out. Now we’re a nation in need of Prozac. It’s like our best hope is that things will simply turn out fine. I once heard a stand-up comic give this advice to new comedians: “No one likes a hero story.” His point was that self deprecating humor is much more likeable and relatable. People will instantly get turned off if you talk about how happy you are and how well your life is going. How often have you gotten annoyed with someone’s because they were posting too many pictures of their new relationship? While it may seem counter intuitive people are much more naturally draw to negative ideas.
Societies need for the negative is so far reaching that we relate to it even when it has nothing to do with us. Society has constructed certain feelings and emotions in us from an early age. They are the feelings that are so clearly understood by everyone despite the fact that many have never actually had the experience. We relate to them because even if our lives have been perfect we create negativity in where there otherwise isn’t. We all feel like the underdogs and therefore we naturally are turned off by anyone who has too much pride. Look at Oprah. She’s loved by millions because they look up to her as a guide and teacher. I doubt anyone would ever use the words Oprah and relatable in the same sentence.
Meghan Trainor’s song All About That Bass is a great example of this phenomenon. The point of the song is that she’s proud of her larger body and tells all the skinny bitches to kiss off. That theme paired with a catchy beat was destined for success. Ask every woman on earth and she’ll tell you that she thinks she needs to lose at least 10 pounds regardless of her actual physical condition. Men aren’t much better. A lot of men chase an unattainable muscular perfection by taking steroid style testosterone and pursuing ever extreme gym routines. (but that’s a topic for a different day) General society has taught everyone to feel physically inadequate and All About That Bass is the theme song of the rebellion. You can go to YouTube and watch videos of legitimate skinny girls singing along with Meghan in united glory. Millions of females all related to being the fat girls despite never actually being the fat girl. Watch the lovely girl in the video below point to her body during the lyric “I ain’t no size 2” when in reality she a size 4 at most. Still she knows exactly how Meghan feels and thinks she should be proud of her (non existent) thick figure. It also proves it’s totally acceptable to be bitchy to those size 2 girls. Society has defined them as the natural enemy. Picture if Taylor Swift came out with a song about how proud she is to be skinny and telling fat girls to fuck off. She’d be burned at the stake quicker than she gets dumped by a man. (Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate) Being fat is the universally accepted truth that society can identify with. (I realize if you’re in the Bear/Chub world there is a completely different set of unreachable body image standards that do not match with straight society)
Weight isn’t the only universal truth. Lack of money is another common aliment everyone suffers from. You could be dining at the most exclusive country club in the most expensive neighborhood and you’d still find everyone agreeing that they don’t have enough money. ( Ugh servants are just so expensive these days) Low cash flow is something everyone can relate too. However as you talk to people you discover that their definition of poor and your definition of poor are sometimes vastly different. Have you every been around rich friends who are constantly lamenting that they need to win the lotto even though their normal salary is 4 times yours already? Or that friend who always cries poor but you discover it’s because he puts 60% of his paycheck into his saving account. (after a maximum 401k deduction of course) Just because your money is in a different account doesn’t mean it’s not money. Like weight, society has given us the shared experience of never having enough money. After the economic crash of 2008 frivolous spending and opulence just isn’t accepted. Lorde is our voice and none of us will ever be royals.
The last universal plight is the one I’m most guilty of. Everyone can identify with getting dumped. Song writers are very aware of this and have made billions off of the pain and heartache associated with ending relationships. Adele would be just some Brit in a bar if breakup songs weren’t so popular. But like I said I can’t judge because I’m totally guilty of this one. Give me any diva anthem about strength after her no good man did her wrong and I’ll sing along with the conviction of a thousand wronged lovers. It’s Not Right But It’s Ok, Stronger and Dancing On My Own are just a couple of my favorites to name a few. Nothing gets me dancing like an angry breakup dance remix. However the truth is that I’ve never actually been cheated on and I’ve never actually been dumped. Granted I’ve had limited boyfriend experience but they have all been with very nice guys who remained my friends after our romance ended. Despite the total lack of a bad breakup in my life I can still totally identify with the woman scorned. Bad breakups are another one of those negative emotions that people can unite behind even though not all of us have lived through it. On the flip side it’s very difficult to find a positive song about a happy relationship that isn’t at least 30 years old. My Man is the one that always comes to my mind. No one wants to sing along with someone’s who is happy and in love. Be honest, how quickly did that Pharrell song go from being catchy to incredibly annoying?
In conclusion I’ll continue to belt out Dancing On My Own along side my boyfriend who loves me with the satisfaction of knowing all my bills have been paid on time.