Since my last post, I've been poking around for more thinking and insight into why social media exchanges seem so conflict averse, and I haven't found very much.
There are a couple miss manners guides to good behavior like this basic and matter-of-fact post from 06 about how to not get freaked out by flamers and trolls. But not very much analysis or theorizing about why bloggers often respond to critics by challenging their ethics ("stop spreading negative energy," or "being evil," etc) or their manners ("pedantic" "too serious") or utility ("it's much more useful to...")
But there does seem to be a think-positive self-image thing going around. As I was making my rounds through people's bios on all kinds of social media sites from Blogs to Twitter to Linkedin, I noticed that a lot of people described themselves as "positive," and often in really assertive ways, like "irrepressible optimist" and "super-positive thinker." And not just life coaches, who are are obviously in the business of being positive.
I was reminded of research I did about a half-dozen years ago for a candy bar brand. I was interested in seeing what teens and young adults thought of as attractive personality and character traits. So I went to the various dating sites, which were more new and popular among young people then, and checked out a bunch of profiles.
What I saw was it was important for young people looking for dates to say they had really diverse interests and tastes. There were a lot of statements like "I enjoy the opera at Lincoln center as much a seat in the bleachers. "Ready to raise a glass of champagne or a Pabst Blue Ribbon." or "Everything from Mozart to Mos Def." You get the idea. You don't say these things about yourself on a dating site unless you think they are going to be appealing to your peers. (As was, as an aside, using the work "geek" or "nerd" to communicate your unembarrassed passion for a subject, e.g., "I'm a total "star trek nerd" or "gardening geek"
So maybe this is a sign, at least among the social media users, that being upbeat is just the way to be.