“As I get older I find that I’m not smarter about the things I say, but rather smarter about the things I don’t say.” (Norm Werner)
Today’s saying didn’t come from my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words; but, it’s just something that I thought of recently. Maybe Jack will use it on his blog. I have been blessed (or cursed depending upon your view) with a fairly quick wit; however, when I was younger I was not always judicious with the use of the things that occur to me in response to things around me. While I always found the thoughts that would pop into my head to be funny, and many others seem to also find them to be humorous; there were also many times when I later regretted blurting out that witty retort or cute double entendre remark. Eventually, I learned to hold my tongue, at least long enough to consider whether sharing my witty thought was appropriate. I became smarter about the things that I don’t say.
That is an important life lesson, whether it concerns witty remarks or just remarks in general. These days it also has great applicability to the stage that so many use to express themselves – Social Media. Whether it be in a blog or on Facebook or Twitter, stopping to consider the thoughts that you are about to share with the world is good advice. Many people think of Facebook as just a place to carry on conversations among friends, but it has also become a favorite checkpoint for job recruiters to visit on order to find out what kind of a person you may be. The offhand remarks that you drop into your Facebook posts will stay out there forever and could come back to haunt you, especially if you’ve allowed yourself to spew vitriolic remarks at someone or some company. The same caution applies to sharing too much personal information about yourself on those sites. It’s not just scam artists that you need be concerned about, it may be that next employer who is looking up what you’ve said.
Blogs can also be dangerous. There is a tendency to think of a blog as a personal soapbox upon which everything is fair game. Certainly there are few rules governing what one can say on a blog; however, restraint and self-control are critical there, too. Blogs tend to encourage the sharing of opinions, but you really need to think about whether your opinion is important enough to share to risk offending or turning off those who do not share it. Certainly that is true in areas like politics and religion. I try to stay away from those topics. I suppose that I might have offended some politicians in Washington from time to time by referring to them as bozos or worse when they pass some bonehead law to protect us from ourselves or worse, fail to do anything useful at all. Maybe there should be a special exemption for talking about politicians, since they have usually earned the witty or scathing remarks that they draw.
I don’t feel the least bit constrained by my new found ability to stop and think about what I’m about to say in public or on a public social media site. Usually the result is better, more thought out and coherent. Sometimes the result is not to say anything at all, and that’s OK, too. The alternative is to continue to be that disruptive kid in class who blurts out everything that comes to mind. As you age it’s becomes obvious that more people than just the teacher is annoyed by that. I think realizing that and doing something about it is called wisdom – amazing what getting older can do for you.