Think before you speak.
It’s something we were told as kids every time some idiotic word-vomit came out of our mouths that proved we weren’t thinking.
Like the time my friend said he couldn’t wait until someone in his family died so he’d be able to ride in a limo - stupid shit like that. Kids are notorious for senseless word vomit.
I need to take my own advice, and I can assure you, as I out myself as someone still learning this hard lesson, that we could all use a refresher on the lesson that our words have meaning and impact and can hurt other people.
Last week, in my local moms group, someone posted a picture of a rare food item they stumbled upon at the grocery store. It looked funny and ugly and gross, I’ll admit it. She posted it and laughed. Hahaha. Who would eat this?
Lots of people, actually, eat that food. It’s a delicacy in some cultures. It may not have been my cup of tea, or the person’s who posted it, but for many people, it’s something they enjoy, and a whole group of people were laughing at them for liking it. That couldn’t have felt very good.
I saw that post and was incredulous. Think before you speak, I thought.
Last night, I ate my words.
I didn’t think before I spoke, and I hurt people I care about, all because I didn’t think before I laughed at something that isn’t actually, at all funny. My husband was in the ER and came upon a set of drawers with all sorts of weird sounding things inside. He took a picture and a few of us talked about how unpleasant some of the things sounded. Turns out, someone near and dear to me uses those very items to help keep a family member alive. In fact, that family member is my family member.
I’m an asshole.
I wasn’t thinking. I saw something ‘different’ that had names that sounded ‘uncomfortable’ and I joked about it, in a public place, where people could be hurt by it, and I did hurt them.
I didn’t think before I spoke. I didn’t take the advice my mother tried to drill into my head and that I try to instill in my children.
The picture was removed and heartfelt, genuine, horrified apologies followed. Not that that undoes my thoughtlessness. Not that that doesn’t teach me a hard lesson about my own fallibility.
I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be. I make mistakes and I’m human. But I should be able to expect of myself what I expect of my children; I should be able to think before I speak.
So, the next time you see something that you don’t understand, maybe use Google before you use your mouth and educate yourself instead of making a jerk of yourself. We all do it. You know we do. I’m not a unique asshole who spends my days poking fun at things.
I just wasn’t thinking.
This isn’t a matter of treating people like snowflakes and walking on eggshells to not risk offending someone. It’s a matter of thinking before you speak and realize the power your words have to hurt other people.
At the end of the day, you can never go wrong keeping your mouth shut when you see something you don't understand.