You have the right to remain silent. It’s hard to remember that sometimes. The right to remain silent applies to a variety of situations. Our opinions are not always needed. Our thoughts are not always wanted. They’re often inappropriate and sometimes, they reach the level of vaguely vicious. Too often, in our rush to comment and share our thoughts, politeness and consideration drift away, replaced by judgment and intolerance.
We’re responsible for the things we say, but as we share and opine, we tend to ignore that fact.
I place part of the blame on social media, and why not? It is a handy scapegoat for all the world’s ills.
Social media encourages people to communicate. In some cases, this is a good thing. Social media allows people to reach out and ask for help. People share their deepest thoughts and darkest secrets and wait for comfort and validation. Sometimes, it’s forthcoming. Often, however, people are attacked instead of supported. We’ve become a species that relishes the cheap shot.
People offer up opinions and points of view in the various feeds that cross into their awareness. They may or may not be authentic positions. The goal has shifted away from honest and heartfelt sharing. Now people do whatever it takes to get likes and validation. The need for props and reinforcement does not encourage thinking or contemplation. It does not encourage people to reflect on their responses.
We have forgotten in this age of oversharing that some things are best left unsaid.
“I was just being honest.” It’s the new catchphrase. It’s designed to remove the annoying burden of responsibility.
Insulted someone? Hurt their feelings? Not your fault; you were just being honest. They should learn how to take criticism. Why’d they ask if they didn’t want to know?
In many cases, however, no one asked. We offer our opinions regardless. We’re experts on everything because we read a headline about it once. We have a point of view and feel compelled to share it, regardless of solicitation or expertise.
We’ve forgotten it’s possible to remain silent. We don’t have to chime in. We don’t have to share every thought and opinion. We don’t have to respond to every prompt.
Some things are better left unsaid. You have the right to be silent. Sometimes, you have the responsibility to remain silent as well.