Toxic positivity in communities


I wonder has anyone encountered toxic positivity inside a community?

By saying toxic postivity i mean the culture where positive behavior is encouraged and the negative talk or sharing of negative (human) emotions is labeled as 'bad'. I hope I explained it right.

I think this video explains it the best:


Or just as a community manager what are you doing to avoid that kind of culture in your space?

  1. 5

    The positive traits of any community can be toxic when taken out of context.

    reddit.com/r/wallstreetbets, for instance, loves people who take crazy risks. They upvote people who go all-in on specific companies. They love people who cash out their 401Ks early. These are bad strategies. What is behind the scenes? Some of their personal circumstances -- some of them are former pros that have lots of experience modeling and evaluating options trades. Some of them have families that can backstop them. Some of them have truly nothing to lose. But if you stay long enough, you notice a major difference between the people who are fluent in options positions (who may as well be professional gamblers) and the other fish swimming in the forum who mimic but do not understand.

    IndieHackers loves people who quit their jobs. That doesn't mean that everyone should quit their job. It's a bad idea for many. Money is vital, health insurance (in the US) is often tied to your employment. But we love to see someone go for it, so we upvote. Maybe it wasn't a good idea, though. And there's a perfectly good alternative, which is working on a side project until it starts to see some traction.

  2. 3

    Toxic positivity sounds like cult-like behavior.

    "Everyone is allowed to say something good about Scientology, but if you say something bad, you will be shunned or even ex-communicated." Something like that.

    This is actually super common. You see it in religions, militaries, political parties, and tight-knit groups all the time. I would guess it evolved because it's a surefire way to make a tribe of people stronger and help defend it against outside threats. It's also a good way to inspire people and motivate them to recruit even more members.

    So it has a certain utility.

    But yeah, there are some tremendously negative side effects. Besides the toxicity and personal harm, groupthink is simply inaccurate think. I'd rather build and foster a community where all opinions are judged on their own merit, according to sound logic and reasoning, rather than some cultural norm toward positivity.

  3. 1

    Mom's groups, my wife shares them with me sometimes and you wouldn't believe the toxic positivity. People might share true grief over loosing a loved one, and people chime in to tell them to get some crystals and everything will be ok and to feel better as they are in a better place etc. Or they share real deep bits about their struggle with depression and people just kinda write it off and respond with over the top positivity instead of empathy.

  4. 1

    what do you mean by "toxic positivity" ?

    1. 1

      I've updated the post, so it's more understandable :)

      1. 1

        It is now :) I haven't seen, but then again, I'm only subscribed to one community (this one :D)

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