If you’ve nothing nice to say, say it anyway.
At least that’s what it feels like these days on social media.
When I was little, there was a lot of angst in my household.
As a matter of fact, ‘angst’ was a feeling that I got so used to, I sought it out in my early adult years.
You might ask yourself, “Why on earth would she do that?”
Well, when we are little, we are exposed day after day to what is normal for us. And since as humans we are always seeking some kind of equilibrium, we will seek out and/or (re)create our ‘normal.’
Of course, much of this seeking and (re)creating is done at a subconscious level.
In my 20’s and even into my 30’s, my friends and those that know me would have possibly described me as ‘passionate’.
If I felt strongly about something, I would tend to rant and rave about it — loudly — to anyone who would listen.
Often, there would be humor attached (that has always been part of who I am). But inside, I often felt so attached to my opinion about something I felt genuinely upset if someone didn’t agree (even if I said I didn’t care).
<Tada! I (re)created my ‘normal’ by recreating a sense of ‘angst’>
I’d spend time supporting my ‘arguments’ and ‘beliefs’ in an intelligent and educated way.
And while I’d listen to another point of view, I had no real interest in changing my opinion.
Because I was intelligent. And I was definitely right.
(I needed to feel right. Because right = good, right?).
So, here we are. Many years later.
And some days I feel like I’m literally ‘right’ about nothing.
Not a single, damn thing.
(Which is not good for a person who describes herself as a control-freak-in-active-rehab)
But it feels so much better. Weird, right?
Look at me. Here I am, sharing funny stories and insights into my very real, very human experience.
Risking judgement, rejection and dislike.
Something I couldn’t have seen myself doing just a few short years ago. (Because that type of ‘angst’ hits far too close to home.)
And yet, it’s completely okay.
What is todays point?
Well, I felt a need to share insight into why I have such a hard time with the current social-media sharing of strong political beliefs, harsh judgements, and passionate feelings — thinly veiled as insights and truth.
Because I’ve literally been there, done that.
IMHO, those that are passionately sharing their opinions-as-fact are simply passionate about their beliefs and invested in having others believe as they do.
(Maybe there are more people who are actively trying to avoid their own angst?)
Us humans are like a moth to the flame, drawn to those sharing opinions that resonate most closely with our own.
Those with the confidence to publicly and passionately share their beliefs are attracting many who are equally passionate about the same beliefs.
The scary part is that resonating with someone’s belief doesn’t make any of it more ‘true’ or ‘right.’ It simply means it FEELS right.
And you know how us humans get about our feelings. Most of what we choose to do, say and even think has its’ roots in our feelings and emotions.
Which may or may not be related to facts. Or any semblance of objective truth.
(In my younger years, I would passionately argue with you about the ‘truth’ of the above statement. The irony is strong in this one).
Fundamentally, it boils down to the fact that most of us operate under the false premise: “I am what I believe”.
“If my beliefs are good and right, that makes ME good and right.”
And then we seek out people who believe as we do, so we can be right and feel good amongst others who are also right and good. (We all just want to feel included, accepted and liked. Right?)
But things have gotten extra messed up lately — especially in this online space.
People who would otherwise describe themselves and their beliefs as ‘good’ are spewing hate, judgement, vitriol.
Blind to the irony of the discrepancy between their actions and their beliefs.
It’s almost as if the more invested in being right and good we are, the more justified it is to hate anyone who doesn’t believe as we do.
Yikes. A slippery slope for sure.
Our beliefs are simply a life-jacket. We wear them with faith that they will save us from harm, sometimes forgetting that we would be better served by learning to become a strong, independent swimmer.
Social media makes it too easy for us to cling to someone else’s raft, providing us (and them) a false sense of rightousness and security.
Every day, I try to consciously choose my actions and reactions to people, experiences and events.
Sometimes I still reach for my life-jacket (when I’m feeling out of my depth, tired, or navigating new waters).
But more often than not, nowadays I rely on my ability to swim.
And I surround myself with people who encourage me to swim, too (even when it would be easier to cling to someone’s raft).
While I’m 100% supportive of free speech, I’m personally trying to stick with the old adage “If you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.”
And from what I’ve been seeing lately, the judgmental side of me really wishes more people would do the same.
(Nobody said I was perfect 🤷🏼♀️)
The original version of this #tuesdaystale was posted to Facebook.
Originally published at https://www.tanyatinney.com on August 30, 2020.