One thing you generally don’t have to put up with here on xenogere is the large amount of comment and trackback spam that gets submitted on a daily basis. For instance, just today there’s been 225 spam comments blocked. In the last seven days, there have been 6,950 blocked attempts to access the site by spambots, address harvesters, hackers, and a litany of other internet offenders.
Nevertheless, I see all the spam. That’s because there is no guarantee that legitimate comments won’t get caught by one of the many filters due to an innocuous alarm (e.g., too many links, a suspicious word or two, or even a blacklisted address or host).
In that spirit, I ran across this little gem today and felt it deserved a rant from me.
Let us begin with an excerpt from the spam:
Dear moderatos, I’m sorry if I’ve written in the wrong theme. Please, don’t delete my post and move it in the proper section.
Day after day, minute after minute people keep feeing negative emotions (“NEs”): jealousy, pity, fear, anger, irritation, discontent, resentment, rage, perplexity, insult, malice, envy, anxiety, uneasiness, contempt, disgust, shame, revengefulness, apathy, indolence, grief, melancholy, disappointment, greed etc.
Is freedom from NEs possible? People are stuck in them so hopelessly that even the very idea of having freedom from NEs irritates them. When they imagine themselves without NEs, it perplexes them to think how it is possible to live without them. They believe that without NEs they would turn into a dead unfeeling thing. They are so addicted to NEs that they cannot even imagine something besides them, although many people had short outbursts of weak EPs [do they mean NEs?], especially in the early childhood.
What I wanted to discuss is the general idea of “negative emotions.”
And let me point and laugh at the premise of giving that term its own acronym: NE. WTF is that about?
Negative emotions. It sounds terrible. One is instantly forced to consider everything one feels in terms of good and bad emotions—or positive and negative ones. But that represents a false dichotomy and an even more errant separation of emotional states into bins that are inappropriate and misleading, not to mention wrong.
You see, there are no good or bad emotions, no positive or negative emotions. There are only emotions.
What we feel is who we are. Our reactions to events and circumstances are neither positive nor negative.
They are, plain and simply, emotions.
There is nothing wrong about feeling anger or envy. There is nothing good about feeling happy or satisfied. There is, however, the emotion itself.
What can be called good or bad, positive or negative, is how we respond to those emotions. Therein lies the only potential separation.
If you suffer from depression and feel happy about something, it could cause you to hate your circumstances even more due to the inherent conflict between your depression and your happiness. If that drives you to do something terrible, does that make the happiness a negative emotion?
When you feel angry, do you lash out or do you address the anger directly? When you feel envy, do you go steal something or do you contemplate how best to address the want?
Those are the good and bad aspects of emotions. The feelings themselves, though, cannot be so defined.
I’ve always abhorred people who try to make others regret their feelings. How dare you!
Our feelings are who and what we are. To label them positive or negative is to force us into believing we shouldn’t have some feelings at all. That is to take away a part of us that we need and should always have.
So tell me: How do you stop feeling angry or hurt? And what of hate?
I hate to see animals suffer. Is the emotion still negative?
I hate sweet potatoes. Is that bad?
I envy those with simpler lives, something that forces me to strive to duplicate those circumstances. Is that a horrible thing I shouldn’t feel?
And let us then look at pity and discontent and some of the other items included in that list.
If I have languished in a dead-end job for years and feel discontent, is it negative that I feel that way? Or is that feeling going to force me to evaluate my options and possibly take definitive action to better my circumstances?
Yet we’re to believe discontent is bad? Or negative?
And pity? What the hell, yo!
To walk down the street and see an animal who has been hit by a car invokes tremendous amounts of pity. How is that negative?
To see the genocide in Darfur invokes pity and anger beyond words. Why is that bad?
No, poppets, it’s not bad, and neither is anything else you might ever feel in your life.
Emotions are never wrong. They help us relate to the world around us. They incite us to take action when we see injustice and suffering and hurt. They make us humane when intellect and reason call for the cold hand of logic. They define moments in ways that facts cannot relate.
I’m disgusted by this premise, by the attempt to make people think of what they feel in terms of positive and negative, good and bad. Nothing you ever feel can be so categorized or defined. Only how you respond to it can be labeled in such ways.
I want my hate. I need my envy and pity. I’m driven by my discontent. How dare anyone belittle those feelings and try to negate what they mean to me and how they might impact my life now and in the future.