Sometimes, the best thing we can do is shut our mouths.
It seems like a simple thing, but it is getting harder and harder these days. And by shut our mouths, I also mean don’t post your opinions on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. I mean radio silence.
My mom taught me that lesson decades ago. When I really don’t have anything of value to add, I should just not talk. It was a lesson she had to remind me of repeatedly, but I eventually got it. I am sure I am not alone here. Many, if not most of you probably had a mother or grandparent or another family member try to teach you the same lesson. They let us know that when you open your mouth constantly, you often show your ignorance.
Of course, in 2020, showing our ignorance is almost a favorite pastime in America. We let it fly from the moment we wake up until the moment we pass out with a smart phone in our hands. If we have a thought, we can’t wait to blast it out to the world of collective Internet thought, a world that is so full of venom that I am now certain we will never find that elusive anti-venom. But we need to try at least, and we can all do our part.
The first thing we should do is stop believing that anyone really wants to hear what we have to say. Your friends and family on Facebook probably don’t want to see your latest political rant. Instead, post about a great memory or share a photo most haven’t seen. The guys on your softball league don’t really need to see the list of everything you “despise” about the country.
Give it a rest.
And speaking of rest, this is clearly a time of great unrest in America. People are taking to the streets expressing their fear and rage and that they won’t take it anymore. To that I will simply say, if you are not someone who knows exactly what those folks are going through or what they have experienced, exercise your right to just keep quiet.
It is a lost art, just shutting up and listening. Imagine how much we could learn about each other if we just listened? This is a time, right now, where we need to listen to each other, to learn from each other. All Americans. Listen, learn and take positive action.
The listening part is something I am sure we can all do. But the shutting up part will be a problem. We are a shouting society. We yell over each other to be heard constantly. “Winning” these shouting matches has somehow become a macho thing. In fact, it is the opposite of that and just shows how little your opinion should be considered.
There are times to shout and to get loud. We are seeing that across the country, and I agree some things must change. But when everyone is yelling out their opinion, even if they are not directly involved, it just adds noise to a serious matter.
So, let’s try to spend less time talking and more time listening. Our mothers were right about this, and it seems to be something that Americans used to be good at. And one thing I find to be true: Those who yell the loudest and most often, especially on social media, usually have the very little of importance to add to the national dialogue.