Few things have illustrated the power of the negative echo chamber more succinctly than the events of the past few days.

While the world has been fixated on the athletic prowess of the best athletes in the world, some have been focusing on all the wrong things: aesthetics.

After Gabby Douglas’ historic win, while most people were celebrating her triumphant win, a vocal minority took the opportunity to take jabs at her hair.

Although their tweets and Facebook posts questioning her styling choices were an annoyance, most went unnoticed until media outlets like Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Essence, and CLUTCH (yes, we are to blame as well), blew the story up. Soon, folks were addressing Gabby’s haters on every social media networks although they’d probably never even seen the offending tweets in the first place.

But what began as an annoying Internet meme, quickly spread to TV. Soon, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson was commenting on the criticism surrounding Gabby Douglas’ hair on MSNBC, and the teen was asked about it while she enjoyed her Olympic experience in London.

In case that wasn’t enough, the hub-bub over Serena Williams’ celebratory “C-walk” after she won a gold medal is also making the rounds on social media, and unfortunately on TV. Both of these instances, as well as several in the past, made me wonder, if sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.

With the never-ending news cycle, media outlets such as this often feel pressured to jump on popular news stories, even ones that start in ridiculous places. And sadly, readers continue to share them, often times faster than they share (or comment) on positive stories.

But things start with us—the media—and I’m beginning to feel that in our efforts to cover stories before our competitors (because, let’s face it, the only way online media outlets make money is through page views), we turn certain news stories into bigger issues than they actually are.

While most news stories are valid and should be covered, things such as Gabby’s hair and Serena’s dance, do little more than rile people up and create controversy where there is none.

What do you think? How can we all break out of our collective negative echo chamber?

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  • simplyme

    amen and amen.

    I liken this phenomenon to an animal taking a dump in the corner of a field where people are having a party. Nobody notices because everyone is too busy celebrating and having fun. But then one guy does (he specializes in looking for manure) and decides to warn everyone about it despite it being insignificant. So he places a fan next to it and blows the stench towards everyone at the party so they’ll realize its there and “watch out for it”…

    Now everyone smells it and is upset. He destroyed the party and ruined everyone’s night. He ruined Gabby’s birthday… He told everyone he was just warning them about the manure, but he really did it because he’s jealous..he doesn’t believe Gabby and people like her deserve a night of celebration and positivity so he had create a distraction by making an issue out of a complete non issue.

  • S.

    Wow Clutch!

    I can’t believe you guys are owning up to your part in this mess *shocked face*! I didn’t think you would b/c you deleted all my comments blaming you so my respect goes to you :)

    After reading a few comments, we need to clear up some things…

    Clutch (and other publications) need to know where they stand in playing up news stories in the mainstream media.

    Clutch is no *small* blog like “SportyAfros” (which started the hair shaming-shaming)

    I consider Clutch a “connector” blog, much like Jezebel. Lots of articles found here and on Jezebel tend to hit mainstream within hours. However, Clutch and Jezebel tend to publish articles from smaller, less-relevant blogsites (this is what Jezebel did with the Gabby article)

    I feel like Jezebel is a White feminist blogsite that tends to “cape” for WOC every now and again. That’s the only way I can rationalize why they would post that article found on SportyAfros!

    I saw that article on Jezebel and shook my head… praying that the article wouldn’t be picked up by Black blogs but I knew I was wishful thinking :(

    The day I saw that article on Clutch and then the Huff and the Grio I new it was gonna be on Yahoo. Just sad

    We have to do better. We can’t play into bait like that anymore. Let’s FORCE the mainstream to focus on the positive :)

  • Eri

    What’s a C-Walk?