I think it was Oprah Winfrey who once said that people can be divided into two camps – radiators and drains. Radiators beam warmth, kindness, love, happiness and enthusiasm. They smile when you walk into a room, are genuinely interested in others and make you feel good about yourself. Radiators bring out the very best in people.
Drains have a more negative outlook on life and their glass is always half-empty. They can be self-absorbed, demanding and will often TAKE TAKE TAKE without ever giving anything back. Drains zap your energy levels with their constant need for reassurance and leave you feeling totally diminished. Drains are toxic.
Over the years, I like to think I have got pretty good at differentiating between the two and tend to steer clear of mood hoovers.
However, I have been less careful about letting drains into my online world and I have recently noticed that my timeline has become infested with them.
Online drains take to twitter to complain that someone else just got sent a packet of biscuits and they did not. They DM people to ask how they got on the list for free biscuits and speculate as to why they were excluded. Then they start tweeting that the biscuits are all shite anyway and the people who eat them are too.
If you tweet ‘I love biscuit’, drains will pull you up for bad grammar. They will then ask you to RT their blog post about the injustice of not being sent biscuits and how the selection process must have been a fix.
They see another’s success as their failure. What you want to say is ‘Look, there are plenty more biscuits out there’ but you know it will end up in a 4-day twitter stand-off between people who are capable of being happy for others and people who are not.
But let’s just say you think they may have a point about the biscuits, so you do RT them. Don’t always expect the favour to be returned, unless of course you are also tweeting about them not getting any biscuits. Drains will continue to ask for your time and your resources while rarely offering anything back. Some take offence if their messages go unanswered. They have an ability to make almost every situation about themselves and are relentless in their self-promotion; whether that is by complaining, arguing or leaving snarky blog comments.
Whereas, radiators start their twitter day by asking if anyone fancies a cup of tea. They respond positively to good news and are generous with their likes, shares, mentions and virtual gin. They are engaging, genuine and make the twitterverse a nicer place to be.
Of course, even the warmest radiator can have occasional drain-like moments. When truly awful things happen it’s hard to be a radiator and nor should anyone try to be. We all need to vent now and then, and not everything online should be fluffy kittens and pink peonies. In fact, it has never been more important to keep things real. We need all of the good, the bad and the ugly on social media so others can radiate all their love, kindness and respect in the right direction.
There will be times when all of us feel weighed down by a cloak of gloom, but these times do not last forever and living through them is part of being in a supportive online community.
The persistent demand for another person’s biscuits is not.