The Power of Negativity (and what its like to go sort of locally viral for a day)

Last week I was at the grocery store when I started thinking about that awful car accident that happened a few days before. I had just read on Facebook that morning that Officer Ellsworth had passed away, and so I was thinking about it as I did my shopping. Then I started thinking about the girl whose car hit him, and I realized I might have a way to reach her. I wrote the post in about ten minutes flat, didn't even bother to spell check, and posted it.

When I came back an hour later, it had been shared 30 times and viewed over 1,000 times. I also had a message from someone telling me they were going to forward the post on to the girl. I was happy that it had gotten to her so quickly, and that so many people wanted to show their support.
At the same time, I was a little worried. I have yet to see a story on Facebook these days that doesn't have at least a few rude or negative comments. And even worse, this wasn't really my story to be in the middle of. I didn't want to seem disrespectful to either family, and I really didn't want it to look like I was out seeking fame. (For the record, I don't make any money off this blog, so I definitely wasn't seeking fortune.)

But for the next 24 hours, the whole post just basically exploded with love and support for both families involved. I felt really touched and humbled to be a part of it, and I was and am really grateful that my love of writing might have been able to help someone on one of the hardest days of their life.

In the end, the post was shared over 1,200 times on Facebook, and viewed almost 150,000 times. To put that into perspective, if each person only viewed it once, that would be the entire population of the greater Tremonton area, Brigham, and everyone in Logan twice. Unless Blogger is crazy, I had views from Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan. If you know me, I'm small potatoes. Most of my posts get about 100-200 views, and rarely any shares. So to reach an audience that big was huge for me. All I kept thinking was why didn't I bother to spellcheck??? 

It was an interesting day that I might never get to experience again, so I thought I would share a little what it's like to go sort of locally viral.

First, a lot of random people try to add you as a friend. Which I find weird. Can you follow my blog instead? Why do we have to make this personal? This is sort of like when you talk in church and then random people from your ward talk to you in the grocery store because they recognize you but you have no clue who they are. Am I the only one?

The best was the people who I used to be friends with, but who had apparently deleted me at some point and were now trying to re-add me. I had to chuckle about that.

There were also a lot of comments I happened to stumble across on random shares of my post from people I barely knew saying things like, "I know the girl who wrote this!" or "She's one of my best friends!" I wasn't upset with any of it, but thought it was funny and interesting to see how people react when they have a brush with fame. (Even Box Elder County, extremely local fame.)

I got a lot of wonderful messages from people close to this girl and those were the best part. They were all very kind and made me really glad that I had reached out.

Tomorrow, the post will be appearing in The Tremonton Leader and The Box Elder News Journal. I am honored, but as my brother put it, "What is this newspaper you speak of? I'm sure Grandma and her friends will love it!" Still, when I was 12 I wrote a riveting piece about the pledge of allegiance and sent it to the Standard Examiner, and I'm pretty sure my mom still has it framed somewhere. So this is a big deal.

So in the midst of being surrounded by all this love and positivity, it finally happened: my blog got not one but two rude and negative comments. I deleted them the second I saw them, not because no one can disagree with me, but because I wasn't going to let my blog be the place for someone to bring negativity into a story like this. Hopefully, I am one of the only ones who read them. But they still stuck with me. I wanted to fight back, to argue, to tell them they were wrong. I wanted to say that they were missing the whole point of the post, that forgiveness is not only important but completely necessary in a case like that.

But I didn't. (Ok, with the above paragraph, I guess I sort of did... oops.) I decided to let it go because I knew that was best. But it's still stuck with me. Which made me realize: hundreds of kind comments can be completely undone by one unkind comment.

Do we realize the power our negativity has? When we criticize someone, when we talk behind someone's back, even when we post anonymously online? It's the most basic thing we teach children: treat others nicely. But it's becoming less and less important in our society. What's more important is finding your own happiness, and not letting anyone get in the way of that.

I'm not suggesting that we all tiptoe around each other and not try to break our porcelain feelings. I'm just asking that we all think before we speak. That we ask ourselves: Is this constructive? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

We've all been there. I'm sure we could all sit down right now and write a list of the negative things people said to or about us. I could go clear back to childhood if I had to. But I would have a harder time thinking of the kind things.

For some reason, negativity is just more powerful. And sometimes I think we feed off of that. I think that's why the media is the way it is, I think that's why my news feed is generally full of terrible, haunting stories.

So next time you're really feeling down and wondering what happened to all the good in the world, just remember: the negative is more powerful, but that doesn't mean there is more of it. If it takes a thousand kind words to undo one bad one, then there must be a lot of kindness and goodness out there to undo all the bad.

Thanks again to everyone for sharing and commenting and spreading the love last week. I really appreciate it, and from what I've heard from both families, they do as well.


  1. You're the best Anndee! Even though I'm one of 'those' people (sister of a friend)....I love your blog and your thoughts make me happy :]

  2. Anndee, as a law enforcement officer in this county, I loved your post. I commend you on being willing to share your thoughts. And it was so well timed. Being a law enforcement officer, I know the facts of what happened that night. I have watched the videos of officers arriving, and body camera footage. I have seen that 16-year-old girl talking to officers, and know who she is. I also saw my friend and colleague battered and broken. And it all hurt to watch.

    As I watched TV the following night, when the news stations were running their promotional commercials about what they would be talking about that night. The story of my friend being struck was aired, and the fact that he was hit by a 16-year-old girl, was immediately followed by that horrible Sigfried and Jensen commercial that says, "There are no accidents, just careless people." I wanted to strangle the company for that motto. Because bottom-line, 16-years old had nothing to do with this crash. It could happen to anybody, and no amount of driving experience would have helped anyone put in this girls position. And I feel like you got it all right. I feel like your post might have given hope to someone who was living out some of their worst minutes of life on earth. Who, if they are anything like me, were punishing themselves inside their head worse than any man made punishment ever known. And while age certainly didn't matter in the crash, it certainly mattered in her ability to cope with the pain, and life's problems, and the despair and grief she must have been feeling.

    But to get to the point of my comment. I discovered your blog because of a share on Facebook. I generally avoid posts about police in general,. because they all hurt me. It can be really frustrating to see the negative comments, and wonder if you are making a difference. But..., I clicked, and I am glad I did.

    I will tell you why people want to be your friend now. Because you are positive, you looked at a terrible situation, and you found the positive in it. People cling to hope, like a life preserver. You were the lifeguard, and you threw out positive words to people that desperately needed them. We live in a negative world, where having an opinion, no matter what it is, is dangerous. And most people are to afraid to share, in fear of negative comments. People want to be around you, because they know that sometime in the future, they are going to need someone to throw them something positive, and you offer that. In fact that's why I clicked back here.

    I have never met you, and probably won't, but I appreciate you being honest. I appreciate you being brave enough to post real genuine thoughts without fear of reprisal. I appreciate you being positive. I appreciate you being a light in the world for others.

    I am someone that willingly goes into the dark places of the world, to try and save the people lost there. This is my choice, and I love what I do. But venturing into the dark is not safe, and you get battered, bruised, and scarred along the way. These injuries don't always heal on their own. So, that being said, I will probably click back here. Why?.. Because it is a place where I have found light before, and it is a place where I found words I needed to hear during a hard time. Thank you Anndee.