Skip To Content

    People Are Pointing Out "Positive" Messages Taught By The Media That Are Actually Harmful, And I Agree With A Few Of These Myself

    "That your parents know best. Parents are people, and some people are toxic."

    This week, Reddit user u/NervousLittleSheep posed the question, "What's a 'positive' message media teaches all the time that's actually a bad one?"

    And there were so many great responses! Here are some of the top-voted answers:

    1. "'Never give up.' Sometimes, giving up (i.e. deciding not to pursue a stressful career) is the right answer for your mental health."


    "Especially giving up on a girl who says no to a guy. So many movies glorify the guy who keeps trying to hook up with the girl or prove himself to win her over."


    2. "Being positive and having happy thoughts all the time. All that positive vibes crap."


    "It's called toxic positivity. 'Why can't you just be happy? Look at everything you have! You should be grateful!'"


    "'Happiness is a choice!' I really wish it were that simple. It’s really an ignorant thing to say."


    3. "That you can 'fix' someone by just loving them enough and never demanding any meaningful change in their behavior because love will fix them."


    Couple sitting on the couch, facing away from each other in frustration and stress

    4. "Calling people 'brave' or 'heroes' because they have cancer or some kind of illness. They’re not brave, they’re not heroes. They are people, people who don’t want to die. Don’t put them on a pedestal to make yourself feel better. They’re dealing with enough. Support them; don’t make them a mascot."


    5. "'Do what you love and you'll be successful.' Nope."


    "Doing something I've always liked as a job has totally ruined my enjoyment of it."


    6. "That bullies are hurting, too, and that's why they bully others. It's sometimes true. Other times, people are just dicks, and justifying their actions with their own trauma doesn't rid the bullied of their trauma."


    "Agreed. I’ve met bullies whose lives are fine. They're just being douches because they can, regardless of consequences – if any."


    Young child being bullied at school

    7. "Media covering 'feel-good' stories about kids creating a GoFundMe or raising money via a fundraiser to cover someone’s medical bills. It’s normalizing the predatory behavior of medical providers and insurance companies."


    "'Kid with cancer holds bake sale to pay for chemo' is a really funny way to spin 'little girl with cancer has to perform labor while sick to avoid death from inaccessibly expensive price-gouged treatments.'"


    8. "That everything happens for a reason. Fuck that. Not everything needs lore or a purpose. Things just happen."


    9. "That your parents know best. Parents are people, and some people are toxic."


    Child being yelled at by their mother

    10. "'You can do anything you can put your mind to!' You actually can't. Skill, ability, age, class, and financial issues mean the vast majority of things simply are not possible for the vast majority of people."


    11. "That in order to heal, you must forgive. Fuck that noise. Not everyone deserves forgiveness."


    12. "'Give 110%!' Running something past its limits breaks it. Throwing all of yourself into everything every day will burn you out."


    Person staring at their laptop, looking stressed and burned out

    13. "The whole 'blood is thicker than water' message where you should feel obligated to be loyal to your family, no matter what. If they are toxic or abusive, then there is no reason for you to keep them in your life, especially if it is detrimental to your own well-being/mental health."


    14. "That proving all those old naysayers, exes, etc. wrong is a satisfying and healthy source of motivation. You’re giving their actions and opinions WAY too much power over you, especially since they probably stopped caring a while ago."


    15. And finally, "That hard work and success are inextricably linked. Plenty of people got wealthy just by having rich parents, and the hardest-working people you'll ever find are sometimes the poorest."

    "Presenting hard work and success as a pair falsely implies that people who have wealth must have it because they worked hard, and the poor must be poor because they didn't work hard."


    Person holding open an empty wallet

    Which "positive" messages from the media are actually untrue or even negative? Sound off in the comments below!

    Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.