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What Makes Negative So Addictive

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In the last election cycle for governor I was asked to lead the campaign for one of our candidates (not Gov. Ducey). 

I am a personal friend of the candidate, so I considered taking the position on one condition – the campaign could not be driven by personal media attacks on other candidates. 

I attended law school in Washington DC, the epicenter of negative political rhetoric. I learned to hate it then and did not want to be associated with it now. 

As to leading the campaign, I said it was okay to criticize positions on issues. It was okay to expose serious transgressions relevant to character.

But I said it was not okay for our campaign to shade facts and make it a dirt slinging fest… “VOTE FOR ME. THEY ARE BUMS.” 

After heated discussions, “my” candidate brought in a political media consultant who told me flat out: “You buy votes cheaper by slamming others than praising yourself.”  

That’s when I learned something I intuitively knew but hated to be true – positive is attractive,  negative is addictive. In politics, you can’t win if you don’t smear. I decided to pass on the position. 

Unfortunately, negative attracts more viewers in news too. That’s what’s happening now. Heartbreaking physical, emotional, and financial struggles due to Coronavirus (CV) have propelled news ratings to unprecedented levels. 

Are you watching more news than you were a month ago? I’ll bet so. 

CV Infection stats. CV death stats. CV stories of hardship and pain. Turn on the news and that’s pretty much all you hear… other than the weather.

Just like in politics, negative attracts eyeballs. Eyeballs propel ratings. Ratings attract advertisers. Advertisers generate revenue. That’s why the media pushes negative over positive.   

It’s not like there isn’t any good news. There is lots of good news having nothing to do with Coronavirus. 

Surprisingly, there is a positive side to the bad side of Coronavirus. 

I did a quick search of the Internet and found:  

  • Traffic fatalities have plummeted because fewer people are driving. 
  • Pollution has subsided, predicted to result in fewer deaths from lung cancer. 
  • People are exercising more, predicted to save lives and improve health. 
  • New political, business and medical leaders are emerging. 
  • New companies are being born, thriving and hiring.  
  • Some existing companies are growing, thriving and hiring. 
  • New technologies are being developed that may improve lives forever.
  • More babies will be born in 9 months, many who will make the world better.  
  • Families are spending more time together, memories they will cherish.

I am not minimizing or suggesting we hide the struggles and loss of life so many are now suffering. 

I am not criticizing the media for pushing bad news over good because it sells. 

What I don’t understand is why. 

What makes struggle more alluring than success? 

What makes suffering more attractive than happiness? 

What makes negative so addictive? 

-Greg Hague

I refuse to entertain negativity. 
Life is too big and time is too short to get caught up in empty drama.”

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