There's a phenomenon that grips me every so often, and it may not seem very signficant to many of you, but to me it's unusual or even rare. It's the urge to hold my tongue.
I am one of those people who has an opinion on everything. It may not always be anything deep or meaningful, but if you ask me "What do you think of......" I can give you an answer, without any effort at all. And it will be my truth.
Of course, it may not be what you want to hear. That's quite another matter. There have been many occasions when I've been asked my opinion, given it exactly as requested, clearly and quickly, and got myself into deep shit for what I just said. But for some reason people keep on asking my opinion, even if they have past experience of having got it.
There are two things at play here.
One is honesty. I assume, often wrongly, that you and I are both honest people. That we are adults, with good brains, and that we can both deal in truthfulness. But that's not how it is. You ask me my opinion, I give it, you get angry. So, while you often announce that you believe in free speech and you value my opinion and enjoy my attitude, it's not true. You only like my attitude when I'm lambasting somebody else. Then it's a hoot.
The other is that age old thing of taking things too seriously. If you wish to take yourself seriously, that is your right, and far be it for anyone to dismiss your sensibilities there. Alas, I don't take myself very seriously. I often forget that other people do (sorry) but what's worse is that they take me seriously when I'm not being serious.
It is possible, you know, to have a serious side, that is to say, to take things that actually matter seriously (you know, human rights, the environment, war, and so on) without always being serious.
The person who embodies this ability to be INCREDIBLY silly, and also to take things that actually matter seriously, is Russell Brand, and I bring you his news channel on You Tube.
(It doesn't want to embed here, sorry)
Russell is a nut. But he cares deeply, and this comes across if you bother to listen. Many don't, and they only see the nut.
I'm not quite that much of a nut, but I do occasionally let myself go.....and people jump all over me.
Now, it doesn't help that I'm doing it in writing. But no amount of smileys seem to help, if I blog or write anywhere, on a topic that's not exactly of earth-shattering relevance, e.g. I have a little go at snacks, God forbid, I get into ten times more trouble for what I say than if I'm being deadly serious.
The fact that people can get more upset about their precious fucking snacks than they do about world peace or the destruction of the oceans says more about them than it does about me, but that's neither here nor there.
So, as I'm solutions oriented, and I strongly believe that I can have no effect on how people react - that's their business - I am increasingly saying NOTHING.
I don't like it, I really don't. The whole point of social media is to be social. I get precious little social. I live in the middle of nowhere and I don't even get out much here. My local friends are all very busy people like me, so I make the most of my family as my social circle, but the problem there is that we are all used to each other. Very familiar. We tolerate and understand one another. It's wonderful, it's divine, but it's not new. It's comfortable rather than dynamic.
If I want to explore thoughts, if I want to learn, I have to have different inputs. I have to talk to people who are not like me, who perhaps I don't know very well. In fact people I may not agree with.
But opinions get in the way. Don't they. They are like big boulders in the road of communication.
Of course I could just click "Like" on everything on Facebook and support everyone, all the time, never disgreee, never challenge, never offer information. I could smile at every photo, whatever I actually think of it. I could, in fact, stop breathing, because there's absolutely no point in my being there if all I do is give a big thumbs up to every fatuous remark, every load of misinformed bollocks, and every bigoted slight.
But most of all if I'm asked my opinion and I don't give it, if instead I tell lies, I may as well throw myself under a bus.
So, instead, I choose to say nothing. It isn't helping anyone, but at least it's not dishonest.