Toxic positivity is the subject of our student project, in which we are trying to inform the people closest to us about the problem connected with toxic positivity and the negative effects of this cultural and psychological phenomenon.
What is toxic positivity? It’s a psychological term for people who are extremely positive. People who spread encouraging words even when it is not needed or adequate. People use it seemingly to support you, but in reality they are just trivialising your problems and undermining your emotions. Maybe you have experienced this too and didn’t realise it.
When you are feeling down or are simply not having a good day, all you want to do is just talk about it. And what’s the response you hear from your friend? Is it something similar to: “C’mon, look on the bright side!”, “Don’t be so dramatic!” or “Don't be so negative!”...? If the answer is yes, then you have experienced toxic positivity.
We have chosen this theme because we want people to know that not feeling well is okay. That pretending there isn’t a problem is not good for your mental or physical health. When people experience toxic positivity, not only does it not help them with their current issues, but it can worsen their mental health. Suppressing emotion can lead to depression, to comparing yourself with others, or to feeling isolated.
Our solution is to design cards. On one side of each card, there’s a typical toxic-positivity sentence and a website address where you can inform yourself about the subject; on the other side, there is a response you could offer to someone instead of the words on the other side of the card.
The whole idea is about helping people understand that there’s something like toxic positivity and that it can affect us. You can choose one of these cards, pin it on a bottle (the best is a wine bottle), and give it to a person who exhibits certain signs of toxic positivity or who deals with negative emotions.
We gave these bottles to our friends and the experience was good. Thanks to this project, we spent quite a lot of time searching for the best critical visual solution that would speak for itself, instead of us doing the talking. While speaking directly to people while giving them these cards, we wanted to figure out why they don’t want to talk about or hear about problems. The result was that, in general, people rather prefer to pretend that things are not as bad as they look and are afraid of accepting the negativity in life.