If you don’t have anything nice to say…

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I’ve been so saddened lately. Some of it is my own hypersensitivity and I am totally willing to own that. I know I get hurt way too easily and take things too personally. That’s my own issue and not something I can blame on others.

 

But some of it… well, I think it might be a result of our reliance on computers and social media to interact with one another. Don’t get me wrong– I {big puffy heart} social media. It’s been good for me and to me and I have zero intention of ditching Twitter or Facebook any time soon.

 

Still.

 

Here’s what I keep seeing, through blog posts, status updates, and even little tweets:

 

Someone is hurt or offended because they’ve been judged. It could be a misinterpretation or it could be legitimate. Maybe somebody seemed to badmouth homeschooling. Or public schooling. Or gun control. Or homeopathic healing. Or conventional medicine. Or whole foods. WHATEVER.

 

The now-offended party feels the need to speak up in her own defense. Understandable. But, rather than offer some ideas, suggestions, or even– go figure– opinions, she decides to explain why the other party is a total idiot and totally unjustified in what has been said and/or implied.

 

Instead of intelligent debate and discussion, we’ve resorted to “you’re dumb and here’s why.” How is this possibly productive?

 

It’s bad enough when this is done as a mode of “defense.” I really don’t like the approach of suggesting others are stupid because they have other theories or priorities, even if they’ve stepped on our toes a bit. We may ignore. We may delete. We may discuss. But, really, no one gets anywhere if it becomes a well-worded battle of insults.

 

Yet, even worse than that, this vitriole is spit at people who never even sought to offend. Heaven forbid someone post an innocent shot of a preschooler enjoying some chicken nuggets. Or mention getting the flu shot. Or mention NOT getting the flu shot. Or…

 

Well, you get the point.

 

When did we decide that people’s happy, content, productive little lives should be totally up for scrutiny at any and all times? Why can’t we just see or read something and, if we don’t agree, move on? So very, very rarely are these things character issues.

 

Some of the BEST moms I know serve their children chicken nuggets and go-gurts. Does that mean I’m going to run out and buy them for my own kids? No. And that’s fine. It also doesn’t make them lousy mothers. No one’s telling you that you need to parent in the exact same manner as someone else. Nor do you need to dress like her. Nor do you need to drive the same kind of car, visit the same sort of doctor, or choose the same kind of glass cleaner.

 

If she asks you, “Hey, do you know of a healthier yogurt option for little Johnny? I’m concerned about the ingredient list on this one…” then, by all means, share away.

 

But if she posts a picture of a happy, smiling little boy sucking down a go-gurt in the sunshine? Maybe just say, “cute t-shirt!” or “what a smile!” or, how about this… nothing.

 

I don’t know. Like I said, I am, admittedly, too sensitive. I take things personally and likely get insulted too easily. I need to work on that.

 

But, I ask you… is there a good reason that I should have to fear the fall-out from mentioning what brand of moisturizer I use? (“Ugh, is that petroleum in there?”) Or what book I’m reading? (“Gah– is that a romance? Those are horrible for marriages.”) Or what the doctor said regarding our child? (“Well-child visits are a waste of time and money– it’s another way the government and Big Pharma try to control us.”)

 

I don’t know. I can tell you things have changed. I can look back at comments– both on my own and those on other blogs I read– from years past, and it was different. People were gentler. Our own responses were kinder. Maybe we were all treading too lightly and others see this more direct, in-your-face approach as being more authentic, as an improvement.

 

What do you think? Is putting your opinion/beliefs out there any chance you get a good thing? Or is there truth to the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Is it disingenuous to hold your tongue sometimes? 

 

I’d love to hear. (But be honest AND nice, please! I think we’ve established I’m not cut out for criticism. ;) )

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11 comments to If you don’t have anything nice to say…

  • Tara

    I am always stunned what people say IN WRITING on social media. Really?? I don’t put anything personal at all on. I feel like the people who need to know do. It’s too bad that people don’t think about the bigger picture sometimes, on social media and in real life.

  • Mary B.

    I think that social media in general has made everyone feel like every single one of their opinions need to be shared. It’s far too easy to react and type out a quick FB post, tweet, etc. instead of actually THINKING about what you read/saw/heard and making an intelligent response. People say and write things online that in person they would think twice about.

    I’m with you…I’m not saying that social media is evil or anything, but I do think that people sometimes forget to keep kindness in their interactions.

  • mlearley

    I agree 100% with your blog and with Mary’s comment. About a year ago, I made the mistake of posting on Facebook that I felt parents of elementary/middle school should not allow their children to read the Hunger Games books. OH MY WORD! Did I get some nasty nasty comments and the sad part was most of them came from a relative. There were a few people who were very kind and simply wrote about how I should reads the books first before deciding if I should let my kids read it. Anyway, since this accident I have been VERY careful what I post or how I comment on others posts. Also, when I see some of the stuff you posted above I just try to ignore it. It is sad that social media have made us more “free” to speak our minds. I think that’s why bullying as become such a problem in our youth. Trust me! I felt like a bullied kid by my one post.

  • Amen! It’s like living under a microscope and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Throw in a few more cliches, too. My “favorite” is when someone is hurting (child or self gets a disease, miscarriage, bankruptcy, home loss) and people tell that person what they SHOULD have done and why the incident is that person’s own fault. Really? Just in case they didn’t have enough pain and guilt, people have to heap on a little more. I too always try to add color my posts with grace or humor (except apparently, not this one–sorry!), and frequently delete it instead of posting just in case it may be taken the wrong way. Still, it’s hard not to offend SOMEBODY. I once offended someone by asking what Christmas traditions my readers have. ;)

  • I completely agree! Everything these days seems to be to shriek in anger or horror about something. Everyone seems to need a CAUSE. My cause is better than your cause, your cause is dumb because… I agree. We need to be encouragers. We need to speak love and truth (though truth does hurt sometimes), and we need to learn to let some things roll off. I agree that we need to speak up about things. I’m not saying we should be silent on things. We NEED to speak up, especially when our most basic rights are being threatened, but we can use kind words and intelligent conversation/debate to get our point across. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Agreed.

    Maybe if we think about what we say and pretend we’re saying it to someone’s face we’ll think twice before we say something hurtful or negative. I need to work on that, too….

  • Kelley

    I agree! And I really like how you expressed this. One last thing. When you work through being overly sensitive and easily insulted, please post your tips and pointers on how to overcome those things. I struggle with the very same things! It is so hard to live in these times being the “sensitive sort”. Thank you!

  • Carol B.

    Once again, I totally agree with you! Heaven forbid anyone have different points of view about anything. I gotta tell you, I often wish to tell people like that…um, let’s just say I’d like to use some not-so-nice words. I do refrain though! :-) It would only fan the flames and make me leave my happy place.

    Don’t let them get you down, though! There are still lots of us that can and do enjoy hearing others opinions, even if we disagree. I always figure I could learn something. You never know, right?

  • I think that it is the relative anonymity of posting something on the Internet that makes people feel they are free to let out all their anger and ugliness directly against someone who has the audacity to have a different opinion about………ANYTHING! Sadly, though, these people don’t seem to realize that their comments and ugly responses are there for the whole world to see and will be out there for EVER! Except for a few truly disturbed people, hardly anyone would actually say their vicious remarks out loud, in face-to-face discourse with someone else. That would not be polite. That would be offensive. That might be hurtful. Really? Ummmm, yep, that’s the point! We’ve got to remember to play nice….even while hiding behind a computer screen! Or else just keep quiet!

  • I don’t really understand why people can’t just say “hey we do it differently” and go on to explain their alternative choices. NO need to be all judgey, preachy and nasty about the first person’s method. I feel like I manage to keep my judgey comments out of writing. AND I am pretty darn judgey! ha ha! I wonder if people just feel insulated by the anonymity or they have nothing better to do with their time than troll for ways to hate monger.
    BUT You should just let it roll on off your back and move right along because you are like Mary Poppins (practically perfect)! ;)

  • I’m such a sensitive person. And it doesn’t change when I’m online. I constantly reread my words when leaving a comment or a tweet for fear that something, ANYTHING would offend someone. When I worked at a grocery store, I remember the two times customers were rude to me & I remember it vividly. I truly believe in not saying anything at all if its not nice. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: it doesn’t get much clearer than that.

  • Katie

    I agree! I’ll just leave it at that because all the above commenters did a great job saying what I would have said.

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