Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Is Positivity Out of Style?

I thought the Super Bowl halftime performance was uplifting and—dare I say it—a quality performance overall. As it turns out, this is about as uncool of an opinion as it gets.

Coldplay delivered a playful rendition of their hits as was requested of them, while Beyoncé and Bruno Mars brought the pizazz to the show when they stormed the stage in an entertaining dance-off. A lover of sentimentality, I adored the montage of past halftime performers set to “Fix You” and tried to pretend I wasn’t crying when my friends looked over.

The most momentous parts of the show, as viewers have identified and discussed ad nauseam at this point, were the two overt political messages. Activists have used sporting events—especially the Olympics—as showcases for political statements before, but at the Super Bowl? Not so much. Due to this lack of political nuance in the past, I found Beyoncé’s Black Panther allusion and the pro-LGBTQ rainbow bonanza to be a refreshing addition to the displays of jingoism that usually proliferate every ounce of the Super Bowl spectacle. And when the audience held up the “Believe in Love” cards in a sea of rainbow at the finale, I thought, “Wow! That was neat!” (My thoughts are those of a 1950s schoolgirl.)

I went online to check out the consensus. A plethora of hatred popped up on my screen. People attacked every part of the show: Beyoncé, Coldplay, Bruno, the pretty flowers—everything! I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the pessimistic attitude of Internet trolls, but I soon began to see articles appearing saying pretty much the same thing. At this point in time, a few days after the fact, the tide has shifted in praise of Beyoncé and in pity of Coldplay. But the immediate reaction of the masses at the close of the performance is the real problem with the tide of public opinion. We’re unbelievably pessimistic and prone to lashing out at anything that does not meet our expectations. If something does not fulfill us wholly, it is automatically “the worst thing ever.”

I can’t think of a better second example of ludicrous pessimism than that within our own presidential election this year. The Donald is the quintessential Internet troll, and the fact that he is doing so well means that an unfortunate percentage of Americans agree with him. He complains about everything: Muslims, the nation’s status in the world, and in his most disparaging comments, our current president.

Well I’ll tell you something. Sure, President Obama hasn’t really measured up to our ridiculously lofty expectations. He has accomplished a great deal, though, and beyond his tangible accomplishments there is an even greater good that he has contributed to our country over his last two terms: his optimism. Obama is a positive, kind person. In a country filled with constant mud-slinging, he’s the guy I want leading the nation.

David Brooks wrote in a New York Times column this Tuesday, “To hear Sanders or Trump, Cruz and Ben Carson campaign is…to conclude that this country is on the verge of complete collapse. That’s simply not true. We have problems, but they are less serious than those faced by just about any other nation on earth.” Obama understands that. It’s in his best interest as president to promote uplifting narratives, but when they’re true, they’re true.

The slew of presidential candidates going around shaming Obama and arguing that America is no longer “great” is detrimental to our country’s spirit. Not only is it harmful to the spirit of the country, but it’s also harmful to our spirits as citizens. As a young adult dealing with my own problems, I don’t want to go through my day hearing constant negativity from politicians and peers alike.

The response to the halftime show and the presidential election are two instances where our nation’s inner negativity has come out in full force. If you want to do your part in creating a positive atmosphere in your community, don’t behave like an Internet troll. Just because something isn’t the best, doesn’t mean it’s the worst, either.   

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