Please Keep Your Thoughts to Yourself

Let me set a scene for you: it’s December 24th. My aunt and uncle’s home is decked and tinseled to the nth degree, the table is laden with handmade pierogies and spice cookies and egg nog, seasonal tuneage is practically coming out of the walls. The youths of the family have gathered around the dessert table to chat without the dark cloud of our parental units hanging over us. The conversation is light and fun and yay-holidays! My brother, Phil, is thrilled that his (lovely! wonderful! TOTALLY AWESOME!) girlfriend, Taylor, has joined us for the evening, and she is fitting in splendidly. We are having a swell time.  (Did I just say “swell?”) All is well.

Leave it to my aunt, Lu, to ruin such a cheery scene. Right in the middle of our Christmas gathering, she deemed it fit to tell Taylor (who she had never met prior to this night) to break up with my brother. She listed a good half dozen negative qualities about Phil (which are untrue, by the by) and suggested Taylor come back in a few years after he “grows up.” Yes, this was appropriate holiday conversation in her eyes because, for Lu, there is never a bad time to say exactly what’s on her mind.

Thankfully, Taylor was eloquent enough to ignore Lu’s insensitive outburst, but we all heard it. We all heard her open her big fat mouth and say very disrespectful, hurtful things about her nephew to the girl he loves and who loves him back. I WAS LIVID.

(And still am, as a matter of fact.)

Lu does this. She says exactly what she thinks all the time because she thinks she has not only the right to speak her mind, but the obligation to do so. In her opinion, she’d be doing people a disservice by not telling them how she feels about something. But so often, the opinions she shares are not compliments or constructive criticism: they’re downright cruel. She’s had a problem with plenty of my life choices, and has never had a problem making that fact known, even though my choices don’t affect her life in the slightest.

Does this remind you of anyone? People giving unsolicited opinions on things that don’t even matter? People who voluntarily feed negativity into the world because they think it therefore they must say it?

It reminds me of way more people than I’d like: My uncle who called me “Granny” when I was growing up because of my glasses; the girl who turned around in math class in the 9th grade to say, “You know, you’re really weird.”; overly unpleasant customers at some of my past jobs. They all toe the line between bullying and “I’m just saying,” but it still stings.

I always thought everyone was taught that if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.  Apparently, many people missed that lesson. I just…I don’t get it. I don’t understand meanness. There’s enough hurt in this world. Why do people want to poison the waters even more with their venom?

I don’t enjoy reading celebrity tabloids because they’re just an excuse to pick apart people’s lives. They are people. Not art, meant to be critiqued. People. If I see mean things on Facebook or Twitter I just defriend/unfollow. I don’t need to read other people’s hateful words. I’d like to fill my life with as much positivity as possible, thank you very much.

But, hey, I guess I’m not exempt from this. I did just write a post complaining about people registering for gifts, when, really, what’s the harm? There is none. So I need to brush up on my own policy. But I just wanted to throw it out there. With all the wars and natural disasters and economic bullshit going on, can’t we all try to be a little kinder to each other?I think we’ve all suffered enough.

I’ll hold my tongue if you hold yours.

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Filed under self-reflection, social commentary, Uncategorized

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