It occurred to me recently that although I’ve opened up and talked about many different topics, there is one subject I haven’t properly addressed: Oprah. More accurately my long held love of Oprah. I have a very deep respect for her and over the years her talk show gave me several “A-Ha moments”. I’ll be honest this comes with a twinge of embarrassment because I know many of you are rolling your eyes in amusement. Regardless I must admit that I’ve learned a lot from watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. I’m not talking about frivolous makeover tips either. Oprah has taught me some major life lessons.
Focus on the do’s not the don’ts is one of these big lesson. For some reason we all have the tendency to focus more attention on what’s going wrong than what’s going right. I saw this back when I was a retail manager and had to hire new employees. One of the questions in the interview was, “Tell me about great customer service experience and tell me about a bad customer service experience.” As you can imagine people were quickly able to recall a time when they were treated badly by a service worker. However almost everyone took a lot longer to recall a moment when they had good service. There will always be things in life that we don’t like. All that time spent on those negative behaviors is a waste of energy that could be put to better use. Apart from trying to see what’s good in the world, focusing on the do’s also challenges us to put our attention toward the actionable details of the future. Your energy is better used on what you can do to make your life better going forward. Listen to a speech from any successful person who came from humble beginnings. They’ll tell you about the mountain of obstacles that stood in their way. At any moment they had every excuse to give up but instead they powered through and didn’t let anything get in their way.
I realize this all sounds like a Tony Robins motivational speech so the best way I can relate this to real everyday life is to talk about Growlr and all the other online dating/hookup apps. Every one of us has seen a profile that is a list of everything the person doesn’t like or doesn’t want. “Sorry I don’t like Indian men. Also no one over 5’7. Please don’t contact me if you’re over a 1000 miles away and my private pics are g-rated so do not ask for nude photos.” After reading that profile my first thought is that this person seems really negative and I bet he’s always in a bad mood. Also I’m not really left with any useful information about what he likes or things we might have in common. Starting a conversation about a mutual hatred of faceless profiles doesn’t easily lead to a date or sexy time. Instead the same profile could read,
“My ideal type could best be described as Chris Pratt mixed with daddy Russell Crowe. If you’re short that’s also a major plus. I tend to be more of a homebody and therefore a local guy gets first priority. I’m a little shy so if you want me to unlock my private pictures get ready for some kick ass vacation pictures.”
That profile conveyed similar information only this time it’s from the positive perspective. The reader is also given much better information so as to judge whether or not they’d be a good match for each other.
Focusing on the do’s has also been an extremely useful tool since having a blog. It’s helped me avoid the urge to be negative and instead flip the script to the positive side of things. I’ve noticed a lot of people like the idea of having their own blog because they want to use it as a means to vent and bitch about all the things that annoy them. Unfortunately that’s just lazy writing that is easily found in the depths of the internet. I hated it when another website made a lists “The Worst Types of Gay Men.” So as a reaction I created a list of the best types of gay men. Focusing on the do’s and not the don’ts has also come into play in many other subtle ways. This is a good time to give you a little glance behind the scenes of The Gay Gasp. I wanted to write something about the current HIV environment amongst gay men. My first inclination was to chastise the growing ambivalence and call out everyone who is less than honest about their ‘undetectable’ status. However as an HIV- man that’s a blog post I just can’t write. To avoid offending half the world the subject needs to be addressed by someone within the HIV+ community. It would be the same as if a white writer condemned the black community’s degradation of women in rap music. While the point may be valid the source muddies the water and racism and many other ideas come into play. In addition while it would make me feel better to write paragraphs about everything I thought was wrong with the world it would do nothing to help people change their behavior. Plus with the outrage movement taking over the internet my complaints would just be lost in the mountain of noise that’s already out there. After some thought I decided to focus on the positive and that’s how Save The World Suck A Dick came to be. I realized that so much of safe sex talk was sterile and clinical. I wanted to give useful safe sex advice that didn’t lose the fun and horniness of sex.
Back to Mrs. Winfrey. I learned this lesson when she talked about how she had skinheads on her show way back in the day. Her thought back then was that she wanted to expose these hateful men and have them share their views as a way to open a dialogue about racism. What she realized was that rather than creating a dialogue she was just giving them a platform to spew their hate. From that point on she decided she would try to have a teachable moment or positive action behind every topic. I’ve taken that same idea and applied it to this blog. You’ll notice that I didn’t add a link above to the article “The Worst Types of Gay Men.” That was a specific choice because I refuse to help them get more clicks and more viewers. From a bigger perspective, the people I truly despise are the the people I never talk about here. Talking about them only fuels their fire.
Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean we have to stick our heads in the sand and ignore all the problems around us. Quit the opposite. I think talking about these issues is integral to making change. However there are more useful ways of having the discussion. So much of online culture has dissolved into winy trolls with a victim mentality who think their opinion, no matter how uneducated, needs to be heard above all the rest. However very few people take action to actually change what they don’t like or take action to support what they do like.