The Positivity Overdose
BY Umer Raza
(The above photoshop picture was shared by many on social media recently with captions of motivation, courage etc.)
For a person like me who is part of the generation that grew through the phases of no landline phone to seeing different people together on mobile phone at one time while talking to them, the development and thrust of technology has become a routine with no further surprise. While I know that soon with the hologram technology I will be able to even land in some meeting room in USA while being in Lahore and Peter (who ever Peter might be) will be landing in Lahore from his meeting room in USA. All this of course is virtual but not far away now. Google at the same time has transformed our lives. We no longer need to search the heap of books at the bookstore or ask anyone for any information, Google does this for us.
If you are searching for something, Google calculates the search time, mostly under a second and presents you millions of results. The other day i did an experiment to find out how many inspirational videos are available in the Internet. I typed Inspirational Videos in the search bar and here is the result 2,580,000,000 results (0.53 seconds). Next thing I typed Positive Message Videos and the result was About 447,000,000 results (0.49 seconds). Now I am sure this number will increase over time. This is indeed no surprise for anyone, any one can type anything on Google and can get a fair number of results.
Now the point is not about the large number of videos or material on “Positivity” “Inspiration” and other such catchy motivational worlds. The point is that even with so much done on such subjects and everyone is making such videos yet at the same time there is an increase rate of depression, frustration and negativity. If you scroll down your LinkedIn or Facebook feed you will find invariably messages, quotes, videos one after the other with positivity, success, hard work, patience, persistence etc.
According to an article Economic Burden of Depression in Pakistan by A. A. Gadit (Department of Psychiatry, Hamdard University Hospital, Karachi) published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical association “In Pakistan the magnitude of illness (mental illness) is serious, the current studies show the pattern as: prevalence of 6% depression, 1.5% for schizophrenia, 1-2% of epilepsy and 1% of Alzheimer’s disease. Besides other social evils, these mental morbidities are responsible for the high suicide rate as noted recently. The prevalence of depressive disorders is the highest, followed by schizophrenia and substance abuse in that order”
Now one can ask about why the negative correlation between the availability of so much positive material yet there still is a rise in the depression and mental disorders. Where all these millions of videos and positive messages are going or these are not powerful enough to motivate and inspire. Had it been the case that by watching such videos or by making such messages inspiration or positivity could have been generated or every thing might have been OK everyone around us might have been positive and inspired. But as we have seen this is not the case. In fact it is reverse so to speak. There is more depression, there are more frustrated youth and there are more suicides.
So should any one stop spreading positivity or making inspirational videos. No one may not. May be in coming days the number of such videos and messages might increase even further.
However, the important stuff to consider and to DO is to stop the OVERDOSE of positivity. There is a rule in economics that is about “Diminishing Returns”. This is in fact very basic economics. And when you read it you will understand why I am saying to stop OVERDOSE of positivity. “In economics, diminishing returns’ is the decrease in the marginal output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.” Hence it is diminishing returns that are visible. This is happening as we are increasing the input of only a single factor “positive videos, messages and talks”, while keeping constant all others such as 1) the practical application 2) actually doing something 3) giving our youth performance opportunities 4) not producing any role models 5) not giving scientific knowledge and telling only fake stories and etc. etc.
This I consider is the positivity over dose that has blindfolded us from the real issues of life. In the race to get MORE VIEWS, MORE SUBSCRIPTIONS and MORE LIKES on social media we are putting everyone on an illusionary world of fake stardom. The YouTube and on online celebrity status needs to change into some real serious stuff that apply, reflect and resonate the life on ground and not online.