Shouting Louder Won’t Make You Any Easier to Hear

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I was thinking yesterday about what led me to start writing these (hopefully) inspiring posts each day. Okay, most days. And yes, I was thinking about it on a day when I didn’t write anything. I spent the morning in my cardiologist’s office and they wouldn’t let me use their computer. Apparently, that’s not a “covered service.”

I’ve written blogs and online columns off and on for 21 years. It started with straight humor – wacky observations about the world around us. Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry gave me the inspiration to think I, too, could make people laugh. And by the end of round 1, I had readers across six continents (I never could quite crack Antarctica).

My writing has changed over the years, and this time around I wanted to try something completely different. Instead of making fun of all that’s wrong in the world, I wanted to focus on what’s right. And my inspiration this time around is one we all know really well – social media.

I had fallen into a pattern of reading controversial posts and offering my own insight. Not that anybody really wanted to read it, but you know – some things just need to be said. And when people post something they know is a complete distortion of the truth, they surely expect someone like me to call them out and set the record straight. Right?

Well, it occurred to me that if I was going to spend another moment trying to change somebody else’s thinking, I wanted it to be something constructive that might actually make their life better. There’s enough wrong with our world. And there are thousands of people out there doing everything they can to prove it. I want to build hope.

I try to stay out of controversial topics for one simple reason – nothing I say will change anybody’s mind. Every now and then I’ll share my thoughts, but I’ve found that the more I focus on the ills of society, the more it wears on my sanity. And for what?

As a comedian, it was common for club owners to set some boundaries on our material and language. Most didn’t care as long as it was funny, but some were a little more discerning. And believe me, nothing would send the rookies wailing on social media faster than a club owner telling them not to use a certain word. “It’s my constitutional right! They can’t tell me that!”

Well, yes – they can. All the First Amendment says is that we can’t be jailed for the things we say. And even then, there are limits. But nowhere does it say you can’t be reprimanded or even fired for using certain language in the workplace. The same applies to public forums where you’re easily associated with your employer. Believe it or not, employers have rights, too.

As many of you know, I’m in a business that involves interacting with the public every day – people I may only know through the internet, and others who be seeing my name for the very first time. And every time I share an opinion online, even my motivational posts, there will be some who don’t want to hear it. That’s just the way it is.

And the more controversial and polarizing the opinion, the more I risk alienating people who could become a friend or business associate. Not necessarily because we disagree, but possibly because they’re tired of being bombarded with unsolicited opinions. Nobody even asks, “Would you like to hear what I think?” They just blast it out there for the world to see.

And make no mistake, most prolific opinioneers (I just made that word up) don’t care if you want to know what they think. They don’t care if they offend somebody else with their rants. It’s not about making new friends or building an alliance of like-minded people. It’s about flooding the internet with their own opinion in the hope of drowning out somebody else’s.

I’ve often said email programs should all have a feature that, when you click “Send,” a message pops up … “Are you really, really sure you want to do this?” Think about it. What is your goal in sending the message (or post)? What do you hope to accomplish? And is this really the best way to do it?

Odds are, whatever it is you’re posting will get a “hurrah” from your closest friends. But you’re not really changing anybody’s thinking – you’re just rallying support from people who already think like you. If validation is what you need, have at it.

But realize that for every person who jumps to your side, two others are turning away. One will never think like you in the first place, and the other just has better things to do. And that person, my friends, is the one who can truly help you grow.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Reality or Opinion? It Depends Who’s Doing the Talking.

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Yes, I played hooky yesterday. We had the little ones, and they get here early, and my granddaughter is going through a “Grandpa’s girl” phase where she likes to cuddle in my lap, and … well, when the little guy asks you to make him some eggs, you make him some eggs. Hey, I don’t make the rules! Like Mongo said, I’m just a pawn in the game of Life.

Okay, we’ll see how many people get that last movie reference. When it comes to slap-stick comedy, that was one of my all-time favorites. Crude? Yes. Edgy? Like a razor blade. But a perfect example of how ignorant we can be when we choose to be … well, you know … ignorant.

I think about that a lot as I read the posts on social media each day. In the past week, I’ve removed a few more people from my list of contacts, simply because they insist on showing a side of humanity that really doesn’t need to be shown. In some cases, I even agree with their general perspective. That doesn’t mean we have some God-given right to be rude about it.

Whether we like it or not, we’re judged by the words that come out of our mouth. Or, in this case, the words that fly off our keyboard. It’s one thing to be passionate. But when passion yields to insolence and outright disrespect, we’ve crossed a line. And the worst part is, all it does is beg an equally unpolished response from somebody with an opposing point of view.

It’s been pointed out to me that nobody likes it when you correct them on social media. It doesn’t matter if the story is an outright and easily proven lie, we’re supposed to just be quiet and let the manure spread. All too often, we’re more interested in being heard than speaking the truth, especially if that truth challenges what we want to believe.

We see this all the time, and not just in sensitive topics like politics and religion. Years ago, I was looking for some freelance writing work and I got an offer to write reviews for a company’s products. I asked how it would work – would they send me the product to try out and I’d write a review on it? Would I get to keep the product? Can I write a review for a Lamborghini?

As it turns out, they would send me a list of features and “marketing bullets” about a product I’d never seen, and then pay me to write lavish reviews about it. And I could make even more money by writing negative reviews for their competitors’ products! That’s how it really works out there, folks. And then they stiffed me on my paycheck!

I’m kidding. I’ve been desperate for cash before, but never that desperate. But you know, there are a lot of things I’d never do that other people do every day. I bet you can say the same. Morals and principles are only as strong as the people wielding them.

When I read reviews, I generally skip over the best and the worst, and focus on what’s in the middle. Even if they’re genuine, the best usually sound like, “We just bought this last week, used it once, and it works GREAT!” And the worst are from people who could stumble into a pot of gold and whine about their aching toe.

It’s one thing to spew hate and misinformation, with no consideration for the people it affects. It’s another thing to blindly welcome such thoughts into the sanctity of our brain. If you fill a glass with clean water, it’s crystal clear. Add one single drop of ink, and it’ll never be clear again. And the more ink you intentionally drop in, the darker it gets.

The movie I was referring to earlier is one that illustrates the ignorance of racial bias, more accurately than we’d care to admit. Thankfully, not too many people turn to that movie as a documentary to support their beliefs, because it’s so intentionally over the edge that nobody in their right mind would see past the slapstick mockery to find any inkling of truth.

But how often do we allow negative thoughts into our brain, simply because they fit our preconceived notion of reality? And how often do we go looking for more of those thoughts to bolster our opinion? There’s no shortage of ink, friends. The only question is, what color?

Manufacturers pay writers to come up with the perfect words to convince you their product is the best. Politicians do the same thing, and even other governments if it suits their interests. If you want an informed opinion, you have to inform yourself. Dig deeper. Ask questions. Challenge opinions. Above all, trust your instincts. The truth is there. You just have to want it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Really Don’t Have To Know It All

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

For somebody who has spent his entire life working around computers and high-tech systems, and writing more than more than 20,000 pages of detailed text on how those systems work, I’m a complete moron when it comes to the systems I use at home. I know how to turn the TV on (most times), I can change a channel (I’m that good), and I can log onto the internet. That’s it.

If you thought I was making this up, my wife would quickly step in and set you straight. She uses features on her phone I didn’t even know mine has. She’s even better than the grandkids, and that’s saying a lot. They’re not allowed to play with my phone because, unless they take it back to the home screen, I might as well toss it in the trash. It’ll never work again – until they fix it.

Most times, it’s not an issue. Unless I want to change the TV from Roku back to cable or watch a movie on the Blu-Ray player. We have four remotes for the TV and associated gadgets, and they work like the combination lock at Fort Knox. Everything has to be done in just the right order, or the TV screen goes blank with a flashing message that says, “Let the kids give it a try.”

I’m trying to get mobile internet in the RV, and I would learn just as much by reading the page in Mandarin. Basically, here’s what I’ve been able to figure out:

  1. It’ll cost more than my house and RV payment combined.
  2. I can use high-speed internet for 16 minutes.
  3. After 16 minutes, it switches to smoke-signals.
  4. If I want an additional 16 minutes, the price quadruples.
  5. The equipment won’t be available until sometime next year.
  6. I’ll get kicked off the internet every time it rains.
  7. If we watch TV, we’ll run out of data on the first commercial.

Exaggeration, you say? Then we’re not reading the same contract. And I know if I walk into the Mobile Internet for Dummies Store, they’ll take one look at me and start planning their vacation to Tahiti. There’s a reason I don’t talk to automotive mechanics. Anything I say can and will be used against me in the final repair estimate. I didn’t even know my car had a fragistat.

We all like to think we’re pretty knowledgeable, and I believe most of us know a little more than we think. Except my oldest grandson. He still needs to come down a notch or two, but that goes with the territory. I always said technical writing is about knowing what you don’t know. Seems to me a few other people could take a page out of that book as well.

You see it in business a lot. Walls go up the moment you start talking to some people. They’re one step ahead of you. They know exactly where you’re headed, and it’s not anyplace they want to go. They’ve never tried what you’re suggesting, but they have a dozen reasons it won’t work. Why? Because they didn’t think of it first.

There is a story about a truck that got stuck under a bridge. A dozen people tried everything imaginable, and it wouldn’t budge. If only they could raise the bridge one inch. A little boy kept trying to make a suggestion, but nobody would listen. Finally, just to shut him up, the driver asked, “What’s your brilliant idea, genius?” He replied, “Let some air out of the tires.”

Sometimes we need to trust our knowledge and know that it’s enough. Other times we need to state an opinion and listen to the responses. And sometimes, we need to just be quiet and listen. If I want to learn to fly, I’m not going in there to tell the instructor how it’s done. He’s done this hundreds of times. He may know just a little more about it than I do.

If there’s something you want to teach, speak. But if there’s something you need to learn, listen. Learn from those who are have done the things you want to do. Listen to those who have gone before you. And hold your opinion until you know enough to speak. Remember these words – tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved