To Keep an Open Mind, Refuse to Comment

A book (maybe Refuse to Split the Difference? Maybe Cues?) said that when you see nonverbal cues that someone is thinking something negative, that’s the time to intervene before they verbalize their negative thought. Once someone has something in public, our desire to appear consistent pushes us to stick with it—even if it’s wrong.

(By the way, here’s the anti-paywall link to my review of Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards.)

I’ve given ‘hot takes’ on current issues which I would’ve reconsidered in light of new information—except I wanted to stand by what I already stated. Now, before commenting on the hot topic-du-jour, I ask myself a) how much did I think about this before? and b) what good comes from me speaking instead of listening in silence?

I posted this piece about abortion rights in May after the Supreme Court opinion was leaked. I’ve thought about abortion rights for over a decade, so I felt comfortable sharing that opinion (and now that Roe vs. Wade is dead, I still stand by that opinion). It also (I hope) shares an angle which might, in some small way, help the abortion rights cause.

Many blame social media for the ‘deterioration’ of political discourse. I’m skeptical of these claims. Contemporary accounts of political conversation in earlier historical eras show there was plenty of toxic political talk back then too.

However, the ‘Age of Twitter’ pressures us to state our opinion on the hot political topic du jour. Despite never having a Twitter account, I also feel the pressure to state my position. I don’t know why, because when I resist, nobody comments on my silence (maybe it’d be different if I had a Twitter account).

Does this pressure to post our hot takes in public entrench shallow thinking? Would our political discourse be better if we spent more time thinking through our political opinions before we shared them? It makes it harder to stop the spread of misinformation—once people have posted their take on something, it’s difficult to retract after the thing has been proven wrong.

Is this a call to talk less about politics? Not at all. This is a call to make more effective political talk. Know your goal, and ask yourself if what you say furthers that goal before you say it.

1 thought on “To Keep an Open Mind, Refuse to Comment

  1. (Currently reading everything I missed in the last couple months.)
    Anyhow – maybe you’re on to something there. When I started out in Social Media and blogging, I also thought I needed to have an opinion about everything. It took a while to get to a place where I can admit I don’t know enough for an informed opinion and refrain from commenting.

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