Should you hold back voicing your opinion?

August 30, 2017

assumptionsWhen we enter the social media jungle we’ll find assumptions. And at least a little judgment and sometimes quite a lot.  After all, many social media friends don’t have more than a superficial friendship with us, right? They don’t really KNOW us.

Well, maybe. Sometimes they know us way too well. But never as well as an in-person friend.

But knowing someone in person is no guarantee there won’t be judgment, because people do like to make assumptions and to judge, often without any basis and almost always without any context. And most don’t ask for context, either.

So, it’s no secret that I’m a liberal who believes I am my brother/sister’s keeper and also a raging feminist. It’s no secret that the one grudge I hold is over the sexism that HRC faced in her presidential efforts. Those are things I’ve written about and blogged about and posted about.

Haters gotta hate

But a couple years ago, someone I know in person took exception to my musings on white privilege and left the friendship. Apparently, I wasn’t liberal enough. If she’d asked, she would’ve learned that my immigrant grandparents were heavily discriminated against, thought of as dirty Dagos. Had she asked, I might have shared the fact that my views were colored–nuanced– by personal experience and my upbringing. That color of skin did not enter into it in this case. Her WASP ethnicity did.

Did it mean I wasn’t a progressive? Not hardly. It just meant that she failed to value the friendship enough to find out why I held the position I did. To see my struggle with something that had impacted my life in ways she could not imagine. To ask. And discuss. Something a couple of my Black friends DID do. There was only “I’m horrified” and off she went into the wild blue yonder. And good riddance. Because my expectation of my friends is that they do what I do, which is take them in. Take the whole person in. And ask questions. Dig into the hard topics instead of judging.

General society does not take in nuances, it’s obvious, and many today are super-quick to bring down judgment. Or take offense. Just like that awful man in the Oval Office, they choose a cockeyed view of things.

Mama called them delicata

The term “snowflake” is an insult thrown around today in reference to a generation that is less resilient and more prone to taking offense. My Sicilian grandmother had a similar term for those who were overly sensitive: “delicata” (male is delicato). “Delicate” in the most delicious linguistic sense.

In my household and among my best friends and nephews, discussions are fast, whip-smart and knowledgeable. Debate is embraced. Evidence is required. And it’s safe to air our struggles with…whatever. Honesty is required. Benefit of the doubt is given. And the whole person is taken in. Sometimes, I forget that the rest of the world isn’t like that. That many are, as Mama, my grandmother would say, delicata.

The role of politics in life today

I was asked to participate in an event not too long ago, and then disinvited on the basis of an anti-Trump meme I posted without commentary. A meme that someone had to dig pretty far back in my feed to find. Which said something. Someone was LOOKING. HARD.

Rejecting the hot seat

The hosts wanted to interrogate me about my political position, although the event was non-political. I stood firm. i wasn’t going to answer any questions about my politics. This wasn’t the Inquisition. Or was it?

The intent wasn’t pure. I saw what was happening–my politics, not my competence, were being judged. Worse, they were using a progressive message point to object. Oh, how many on the right love to hijack our own positions and contort them to fit their own ends.  I was relieved to find out the real intentions of this crowd and not to participate in any kind of event with them. In fact, I wouldn’t be caught dead with any of them.

When I excerpted one of my journals from 1998 last month I repeated the term obese, which I used in that entry back then. Sure enough, someone was offended. But just as I don’t believe terms in Civil War era diaries should be sanitized to respect todays values, I wasn’t going to change what I wrote back then.  Those diaries are instructive, by the way. Educational. They help give us deeper understanding into the racist culture of the South in those days.

When I posted using the term “the bubba vote” I got pushback that it was name calling, despite the fact that the bubba vote has been referenced hundreds– if not thousands– of times in mainstream media like the New York Times and Politico. My online friend said she was “disappointed” in me for using a term she considered “demeaning.”  Key words: SHE considered.

Someone else called me “defeatist” when I took an analytical and realistic view that Kamala and Lizzie wouldn’t play in the states we lost and questioned my feminist credentials. REALLY?? Their gender wasn’t a factor in my analysis; that was the other person’s assumption. I call my analysis “realistic.” Because I’m both a feminist and I want to win that race. Bring me a candidate of any gender or race who can win. 

Whose problem is it?

Well, you know, people can feel the way they feel, and they need to own it. That’s as it should be. But me?  I can only be what I am. Anyone who follows me at all knows I wear my heart on my sleeve 100 percent of the time–and I expect them to know my heart because of that.  Someone’s disappointment or taking offense when none is intended is not my problem. It’s theirs. Oh, I’ll look at myself and assess my heart. But really, they should do that, too. Let me say that again: we should all look into our hearts for our motivation and our beliefs.

Now, unlike my real life friend, two of my online friends had offline discussions with me about it. Kudos for them for that! The woman who assumed I was casting aspersions on women candidates for their gender did not respond when I messaged her privately.

And like I said, I consider it a narrow escape from the judgment and wrath being thrown my way by the clearly right-wing zealots running that event I was disinvited from. The key word here is zealots–I was raised by right-wingers but I emerged left. Right-wing is a descriptor, not an insult. Even today. Just saying.

While shocking to lose a real life friend over something she could have easily asked about, the fact that she didn’t told me everything about her that I needed to know. I came out ahead there, too.

Now, the complicating factor is that I do have a business and most women are prospects. My husband said to me once about this, “You can be Carol or you can be A Healing Spirit, but it’s going to be hard to be both.”

The price is right

I agree that I have and will lose a few opportunities because I do not sanitize what I write and post–which is pretty mild by any reasonable standard. I don’t post every minute of every day.  But when I do, I choose not to whitewash my opinion or parse my words. I could, and I know many who do (because I know them and their politics). In a way, I wish I could do the same. But I can’t. That life of walking on eggshells is not for me. If we don’t stand up now for what we believe we are doomed to lose our American way. 

And I don’t agree that I have to choose between being me and being my business.  I believe that my politics, progressive politics, politics in which we support policies that help and support people–those politics–are 100 percent in line with the caring business I began. One hundred percent.  

Progressive people don’t operate from fear, we operate from “how can we help?”  We’re not afraid someone’s going to take too much of our money, we know that taxes are the way we keep our country going and the way we find people who need help. We’re ok with that.  We’re not afraid of people who are different. We just don’t operate from fear. We operate from love.

The progressive point of view is a compassionate point of view and aligns nicely with the mission of A Healing Spirit.

I have to trust that those people who want to be helped by what I have to offer will also be the kind who see the heart I’ve put into every single one of my products and services.

The kind who think my politics don’t matter because the bottom line is that politics has nothing to do with grief or healing. 

So don’t expect me to hold back my opinions any time soon. Like, not in my lifetime.

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28 comments on “Should you hold back voicing your opinion?
  1. Barbara says:

    I am with you 100%, Carol. I have never been able to hide my true feelings and I’m not ashamed of that. My family from the South have the sleaziest way to try and sugarcoat their feelings in public with phrases like, “Bless her heart.” All the while feeling contempt for that person. I can’t do that. Never could and never will. Sadly, too many of those folks have decided they were given free reign to display their bigotry now, thanks to our idiot in chief. It’s a sad time but, honesty will win the day!

  2. Roberta says:

    I am the opposite. I never voice my opinion on social media. No matter how innocuous the comment, there is always someone at the ready to fight with you. I am not up for that. So I keep quiet and make art. I rarely even talk to my friends about politics any more. It is too stressful and I have enough stress in my life.

  3. I was never big on expressing my opinion about politics until the last couple years, but now I feel it’s important to be transparent about who I am and what I feel. I want to know who I’m working with and who shares the same values. I also want to know why people think the way they do that I disagree with. We’ve been seeing everything we fought for in the past being flushed down the drain and it’s frightening. I say speak out and be true to yourself. We need to now, more than ever.

  4. I voice my opinion if it’s going to make a difference and ONLY If it’s going to make a difference. And I never do it without getting all the information I can.

  5. I respect you so much for being 100% you. I never judge my friends on their politics or their religion. Everyone has a story and if we care enough to really know someone and why they believe what they do, we ask and we respect their answers. Life would be so boring if we all thought the same way.

  6. Diane says:

    I think healthy, inclusive discussion is what is most important. What a colourless world we would live in without differing opinions and ideas. Why, then, does a difference of opinion or views or values immediately turn to: If you don’t think like I do, I’ll fight you! (Or unfriend you or denigrate you, etc. And etc.)
    Bless you for your honesty, Carol. I know that my opinion is always safe with you. That you will never judge me for my thoughts and ideas and we will have a beautiful, inclusive discussion because of them!
    I’ve been reading Mom’s lengthy journals and just came across this quote and it applies to you: The only thing better than finding a person you can trust, is BEING a person who can be trusted.

  7. Liz Mays says:

    I think you’re always going to have to push a little when you want positive change. It may turn some people off but if what you’re fighting for is worth it then you have to go for it.

  8. Theresa says:

    While I may not agree with everything my friends post online, I would never walk away from a friendship willy nilly because of their opinion. One should never feel the need to sit down and be quiet when they have something to say because it might offend someone else.

  9. Pam says:

    I think it is important to be honest about your views. If you feel strongly about something, it’s only right that you live your life in a way that shows it.

  10. Silly Mummy says:

    I have opinions and I’m not afraid to state them. I’m not particularly easily offended – I’ll stand my ground rather than get upset. And I’m generally happy to debate calmly with anyone who wants to have a reasonable conversation, without being abusive, even if I disagree with their views.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I’m learning that it’s best to just be me and not worry about what others are thinking. I don’t want to offend, but I also don’t want to remain silent. I used to keep my political opinions on my personal page so I could appeal to a broader audience with my blog. But recently, I’ve realized that there are some people that I don’t want to appeal to.

  12. Meagan says:

    I think it really depends on what you are speaking up about. If you can speak with respect and intelligence than speak up.

  13. I don’t talk about politics online that much because truthfully, I’m too sarcastic and people who don’t “really” know me will be offended- delicata- I too am Sicilian and my pop and nonni told me many stories from “back in the day”. I also grew up a couple blocks from the ghetto and we all lived together and dealt with our different backgrounds but we were still friends….real friends. We looked at life a totally different way from those who lived in the suburbs, so it annoys me when I hear people saying (on both sides) what these types of family needs. Any way, my best friend is the total opposite on political views and we still love each other, we can actually talk about things and sometimes we’ll agree with the other and sometimes we’ll just decide that we believe what we believe. Good for you for being true to who you are. When it comes down to it, real friends will still love you no matter what! Sorry for the book LOL

  14. Our Family World says:

    I try my best to stay away from voicing my opinions on social media, however, sometimes what I read is really very offensive and contradictory to my beliefs and I can’t help but post my sentiment. Its a free country, and it is my right. It should be respected. I choose to make a stand, to take sides, to be my true self.

  15. People who know me understand that I am very open and opinionated. It’s up to us whether we speak out or not. But when people are suffering and everything’s being affected, I think it’s better to move and talk than just keep quiet.

  16. My biggest pet peeve is the word snowflake and someone resorting to attacking someone’s English abilities. It gets petty and annoying no matter what the opinion is and it’s just silly.

  17. Wendy Polisi says:

    I don’t even bother discussing anything with someone if it’s not in person. Even then, I am cautious.

  18. Although I oppose many things I see posted, I don’t post things on my own simply because I can find it distasteful. A good joke is all well and good but some take it too far which is why I like to keep my distance.

  19. Heather says:

    My mom always said not to discuss religion or politics in public. Funny thing is, this year she’s completely thrown that rule out the window. I love the free version of her!

  20. Mary Ann says:

    I don’t mind people voicing their opinions at all. But, I don’t like when they don’t let the other side voice theirs equally, as well. I think those discussions can turn ugly really quick and don’t do a lot of good. It can spawn a lot of negative energy and I don’t care for it.

  21. Tony says:

    Delicata/o – brilliant. I’m going to start using that when the same people who complain about Sportsball people kneeling are then freaking out about confederate statues 🙂

    Raising kids to be open to and embracing of debate, requiring evidence, and listening as well as presenting their opinions is the only way that humanity can survive. Brilliant piece.

  22. Brianne says:

    Thank you for being honest and sharing your story. I’m at a point in my life where I voice my opinion all the time and stay true to myself!

  23. Debbie says:

    I’m standing here applauding you Carol!! Well said ????????

  24. Laurie Stone says:

    Even among my liberal friends, we have different opinions. To me, they’re not progressive enough. I can be too stubborn and not “centrist” enough in their minds. That’s life. I can’t imagine leaving a friendship over it, but everyone’s different.

  25. Anna Palmer says:

    YEs yes yes yes yes YES Yes, yes,

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