Friday, 22 January 2016

5 Times to Keep Your Mouth Shut

This week has been a bit interesting on Twitter. A couple of girls have taken it upon themselves to drag a friend of mine for offering various blogger services, and then subsequently slagged her off for writing a post championing sisterly support. One of these mean-spirited girls has now written a post effectively saying that she believes that offering unsolicited criticism is “healthy” and that instigating arguments is something she enjoys.

Well, good for you mate. If being bitter, underhand and vindictive is your thing, don't let me stop you.

I happen to be the kind of girl who grew up with the philosophy of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”. I was bullied physically and verbally at school, and a lot of that bullying came in the form of “criticism”. People making uninvited comments about my appearance, taste in music, preference for books or lack of social skills may have been interpreted as “helpful comments” from the bullies but on the receiving end, it just felt like being ripped apart by people who hated and derided everything I was. When you “criticise” someone, you could well be making fun of someone’s identity, or acknowledging and highlighting perceived flaws that they’re already well aware of, and sensitive about.

This face sums up how I feel about your mean opinions.
In short; when you say something negative about someone, they could take it badly. You’d think this was common sense, but some of the conversations I’ve had on Twitter this week would indicate contrarily. Some people clearly enjoy being unpleasant to others and social media gives them a platform to spread their nasty opinions to huge audiences.

HOWEVER, if you’re a positive sort of a person and don’t derive a sick sense of pleasure from publicly tearing other people down, here’s a handy list of occasions where you should probably keep quiet.

1. If you don’t like someone’s selfie
If someone’s posted a photo of themselves and you don’t like their eyeshadow choice or their fluffy coat, don’t say anything. If they haven’t asked for an opinion, don’t give one. Say something nice, or say nothing.

I see a lot of posts on social media of people (mostly girls) asking for help in choosing an outfit, or for a lipstick to go with what they’re wearing. In these cases you’re obviously invited to give an opinion, and by all means do so. Though, if you are a positive sort of a person, do it by complimenting the things you DO like, rather than criticising the things you don’t. Positive reinforcement is just so much better than negative.

Of course, if the reason you don’t like it is because they’re in blackface, pissing on graves or murdering babies then you crack on and shred them. But if you think their lipstick is too dark for their skin tone, don’t say a word.

2. If you don’t see the use in a service someone is offering
This is close to home for me this week. As previously mentioned, one of my friends was viciously subtweeted for offering blogger services, purely because someone didn’t see the value in it.

Now, I dye and cut my own hair, and I take control of my own personal grooming; eyebrows, manicures, body hair removal, I do it all at home. But you’ll never see me on a public platform being rude about beauticians and the people who visit them. By the same token, just because you don’t see the point of something doesn’t mean others will feel the same. By being rude about this service you run the risk of angering or upsetting both the provider and the users. If it’s not for you, that’s totally fine, but you probably don’t need to share that opinion with the world. They’re not hurting anyone by offering their skills, but you might be causing hurt by being dismissive about them.

3. When someone gets insignificant details wrong in a story
This is something my mum is particularly bad at doing.

Picture the scene: you’re at a family dinner and telling one of your favourite anecdotes, and all of a sudden someone cuts you off to clarify an inconsequential detail. It throws your flow. At best it makes you look like your memory is dodgy. At worst, you look like a liar. It makes you feel stupid, not to mention annoyed.

This kind of nit-picking is so unnecessary, and it doesn’t make anyone look good. Don’t do it. Don’t be that person.

4. If you’re not keen on someone’s wedding choices
Recently a very good friend of mine got in touch with me in a bit of a state. She’d been showing someone the engagement rings she likes, only for that person to be super disparaging, saying that my friend’s choices were “common”, “not expensive enough” and “not special or unique”. My friend couldn’t quite explain why she was so affected by this, but long story short she was very upset.

Some people know for years and years what they want from their wedding and their engagement. Your wedding is an important day, and the aesthetic choices you make for that day are a reflection of your sense of style, your relationship and your identity as a whole. So, when you criticise someone’s decisions about their wedding or engagement rings, you’re not just criticising that individual thing, you’re criticising the person. Also, if their partner bought the ring for them it could be the best they could afford. If you’re rude about that, you’re opening up a whole can of worms.

Their choice of ring doesn’t affect you in any way. If they want a fist-sized rock or an amethyst the size of an ant, that’s their taste. Likewise, if they want jam jars filled with pansies at their reception and you think that’s tacky then keep your trap shut and just don’t do it at your wedding.

5. Just after a break up
I’ll admit, I’ve fallen into this trap before, so learn from my mistakes guys! When a friend has just gone through a break up, it’s very easy to say things like, “We always hated him” or “She was always a bitch”. This might make your friend feel better in the short run, but it creates one hell of an awkward mess if they ever get back together with that person.

Also, even if they’re done with them for good, your friend will probably be quite emotionally vulnerable shortly after their relationship has come to an end. Any attacks on their former partner could be taken completely the wrong way. It’s probably safer to concentrate on taking care of your friend, rather than on cussing out their ex.

Ultimately, the internet is a free-for-all and you can do and say as you please. It’s just worth remembering that, whenever you open your mouth or press “send” you’re opening yourself up to criticism, argument and potentially some hate. The best way to avoid that is to keep it positive and only send out the kind of vibes you want in return. 


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