Man in white dress shirt holding microphone

The World is Thirsty for a Glass of Shut the Hell Up

Sometimes people do a fair job of hiding their special nature. Other times they can’t wait to put it on display.

I recently walked into my building’s lobby. There was a guy at the front desk talking to the concierge about COVID. She didn’t seem to understand what he was saying. He began again, louder, and asked if she knew COVID was a hoax. He didn’t understand why people were wearing masks and making a big fuss. She remained professional as ever despite clear signs she was growing uncomfortable.

I was not so diplomatic. I did not engage the moron, but I pulled up to the desk and made it clear in my posture and demeanor that his turn at the desk was done. I had packages to pick up and wasn’t going to wait for this idiot to keep spewing his nonsense.

A bit vehement, yes? Yes.

By the time she returned with my boxes, the guy had left the building.
She thanked me for arriving just in time to spare her having to listen to his rant, my words, her sentiment.

In February, it was easy to assume the virus would pass. No matter what the talking heads would have us believe in retrospect, I don’t think anyone believed we would experience a global pandemic the likes of which the world had not witnessed in more than a century.

Millions of confirmed positive cases and thousands of deaths later, there is little doubt the pandemic has taken a dramatic toll. Yet, despite the evidence, there are people who believe the coronavirus is a conspiracy, and my goal here is not to reverse their thinking. We’re all free to believe what we want. That does not, however, mean we should always feel free to give voice to our beliefs.

But, this is just one side of the spectrum.

At the other extreme end of the pendulum are the warriors who condemn people who do not take the coronavirus seriously enough. To their way of thinking, the slightest cough is enough to warrant a COVID test. People are selfish for taking a walk around the block, and can we truly be sure Fido is not a bio terrorist?

Overly sensitive people make me uncomfortable. Overly sensitive people who want the rest of the world to dwell in their paranoia make me want to shake things, but again, my point here is not to talk these folks out of their convictions.

The purpose behind today’s post is to emphasize the reminder we do not always have to give voice to our opinions.

Do you know why our country is as divided as it is? Sure, there are key figures who make waves when they choose to make public comments, but I am of the opinion these waves would not gain so much strength if we did not feel driven to add our voice to the chorus. It’s like the yippy Chihuahua that keeps yipping the more you tell it to keep quiet.

Think of it this way. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a large email thread? One where first one, then two, then three people Reply All asking to be removed from the thread or pointing out the off topic nature of the content? And then there is an inevitable wave of people who berate everyone for replying to all, while replying to all, which only feeds the monster.

Here’s the kicker: We only assume what we’re going to say has value. I know this smacks against contemporary beliefs where everyone is a winner and every idea has worth. In truth, the thing you’re dying to contribute has likely already been said or was likely said in a more intelligent way. That stung, didn’t it? Trust me, I know from personal experience.

How does that expression go? It’s better to remain quiet and let people wonder if you’re stupid than it is to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

Yes, there are exceptions.

If someone is misrepresenting something where you are an expert, step in there and reshape their mischaracterization.

If someone is misrepresenting you, jump in and readjust their ignorance.

If someone is misrepresenting your loved one, storm in and rearrange their face…

I kid.

Jokes aside, the dismal reality is that even under the best of scenarios, the verbal, or written, argument is not worth the effort. People will generally believe what they want to believe. This is one reason why I finally got smart and stopped engaging in political debates on social media. Well, I wouldn’t say I stopped completely. Every now and then I get bored and pick an argument with an adamant opponent for sport, but I do so with the full understanding my words will have little to no effect on their positions.

The time you spend beating your opinion over people’s heads is time you could have spent doing something more productive. You could have been earning more money. You could have been playing a game that teaches you how to manage money. Even watching your favorite mindless TV show is more fruitful than trying to make someone see something frivolous your way.

The only time it makes sense to be free with your thoughts is when you are attempting to help others, like your humble correspondent. Even then, your advice will add up to very little if your audience is not willing to listen.

So, before you think it wise to add your spoon to the stew pot, ask yourself if it’s worth the energy. Also, ask yourself if you are pitching in out of a selfless desire to help someone or if you are speaking up out of a sense of pride. More important still, ask yourself if you are interested in learning why the person may have said what they said.

The person who believes COVID is a hoax may find it easier to blame a conspiracy than it is to face the reality they lost their business. The person who is extra vigilant about the virus may be that way because they lost someone to it.

If you’re itching to say what you need to say, share it with likeminded friends who will roll with it. Share it with your partner with whom, ideally, you will share an understanding that you will continue to love each other no matter the nonsense you peddle. Or, accept the basic fact that some thoughts were never meant to see light. Sometimes, silence is the best statement.

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My blog is a collection of advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was young and targets subjects like personal finance, careers, and relationships. It publishes Mondays with the occasional bonus article. Sign up to have fresh content delivered straight to your inbox, no SPAM!


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