There’s a John Mayer song I like called Heart of Life. In case you’re not familiar with it, part of the lyric goes:
Pain throws your heart to the ground,
Love turns the whole thing around.
No, it won’t all go the way it should.
But I know the heart of life is good.
I think that’s a pretty good philosophy to live by. Yes, bad things happen. But I try not to dwell on them too much, or for too long. Because for the most part, and in the ways that count, I think my life is pretty much as good as it gets. Or heading in the right direction, at least!
So I try to focus on positive things, and ignore the negative. But sometimes the hardest part of living up to that ideal isn't my own self-destructive nature – it's the Bad News Fairy. Otherwise known as those helpful friends who want to make sure you don't miss an opportunity to be sad/cross/disappointed. And social networking makes it so much worse.
You can pretty much guarantee these days that within 60 minutes of someone saying something snarky that may potentially have been about you, your blog, your car or your parenting choices, half a dozen Bad News Fairies will have sent you emails and messages making sure you know about it, even if you’re on holiday at the time, or in the middle of a huge work project.
“I just thought you had a right to know,” they’ll say.
I sometimes suspect this is just Bad News Fairy code for, “Please tell me in forensic detail how you feel about this, so I can repeat what you tell me to our mutual online friends, thereby becoming a source of gossip, which gives me an entirely illusory sense of status in my social circle.”
Then there’s the emails that say words to the effect of, “I know you didn’t see this but I did, and I took a screen shot so I could send it to you and you could feel like CRAP anyway.”
Great. Because I wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to feel like crap, would I?
And I can’t help myself.
Once you’ve told me that my ex might have called me evil, or a rival journalist implied my copy was crap, or whatever other gem the Bad News Fairy has decided to pass on, I get sucked into a vortex of negativity that isn’t satisfied until I’ve spent at least an hour looking through their blog, Twitter and Facebook pages to identify any other vague statements that might possibly be interpreted as slights about my writing, personality, or snoring habits*.
To be fair, most of the time the Bad News Fairy is telling me something I already know, or something I'm actually not that fussed about – but it's upsetting sometimes to think people are so quick, so keen, to tell me something they imagine will make me unhappy.
I suspect I've been a bad news fairy on occasion myself, after all gossip is as much a part of most people's DNA as their eye colour.
But these days I tend to ask myself if sharing the information is actually going to help anyone before passing it on. And if it won't? I do my level best to ignore it, and get on with my day. In the meantime, if I see a Bad News Fairy on the horizon, I'm going to be sticking my fingers in my ears and singing 'la, la, la' from now on. Okay?
* Whoever said this is a liar. I don't snore. It's just that I have, erm, allergies.