If You Have Something To Say, You Should Say It

Posted by Justin Lillico on Mon 06 January 2020

You read the text and it says something that makes a knot in your stomach. You are almost sure it isn’t rage, but it's something that none-the-less indicates to you that the information here is an incomplete illustration of reality as you see it and you want to offer what you consider to be missing. So you do. You bash down on those keys, relaying the inner workings of your mind to the rest of the world. It is a courageous act for sure, or at least you think it is.

Once you have it out, you think you have done your part. Yet, almost instantly, a wave of insecurity washes over you. You know this is in anticipation of the responses you are likely going to receive. Sure enough, they begin to appear. You hope that perhaps someone is thanking you for clarifying their understanding. After all, you approached the topic in question clearly and in the spirit of persuing what is right.

When you read the top comment, however, you can taste the venom. The flavour is outrage and the words are broad enough to be vague yet sharp enough to sting. You don't understand. You took every care to say it correctly, so why the attack? You read your statement again, searching for the corner you must have turned leading to this miscommunication on your behalf, but you can't find it.

From what you can tell, this person is upset at you for challenging their firmly held beliefs on the matter. You can't really blame them, because now you feel it too. It's coiling around you like the grip of a constrictor. You feel your chest getting tighter and you begin to labour for air. You punch out a response.

Each key you press brings new thoughts about how to approach the situation. Finding the right angle is one of the harder things to do but you are careful to be respectful yet firm on your point. Your ego nudges at you to produce your own poison every few sentences but you refrain. Convincing this unwanted passenger to fade into the background so you can properly respond to this without insiting provocation is no easy task, but you feel you manage it to some degree. Perhaps a passive agressive phrase or two made its way into the words, but you're only human.

Time elapses after your first response. Then your companion provides one of their own. There is a back and forth for sometime before you realise two things. The first being that this person is clearly becoming more distressed as you see the words go from meerly forceful to offensive. The second thing you realise, which leaves you at even greater odds with this person, is that you were wrong.

How could you be wrong? You had spent countless hours googling everything there was to know about this subject. You had presented this idea to your friends and family in a kind of trial-by-fire and crafted it to withstand any angle that came at it. Up until this point, it had remained unbroken. Yet here you are, in your kitchen at 10pm on a Friday inspecting a clear fracture in the logic that makes up your belief system.

Begrudgingly, you accept that they actually know something that you do not. Your ego is now yelling in the backseat, urging you to retaliate. You take a moment to recompose yourself and have another beer outside with the dog. The dog does not participate in the drinking of the beer, but he is more than happy to watch. You must remember you are not here to be correct. You are here to make things better; an easy thing to forget. You are here to at least try to make things better. You sit with yourself and calm the beast.

You then return to your screen with a revised version of your argument. You feel you have repaired the damage to the idea with this strangers point. It is early days, but you think it is solid. You are careful to apologise where you knew you were wrong and to continue to push forward what you still consider to be relevant that this personality is still not understanding correctly. You are almost sure this will get through to them.

Then they call you a ‘fuckwit’ and you never hear from them again.

The internet is in some ways a repository of all the repressed thoughts of not only one generation, but anyone who is capable of learning how to use a smartphone. Some of those among us have a great deal to say and others just like to stir the pot and see what kind of reactions they will get if they say something completely outrageous. Like any useful tool created by our species, whatever fascets of ourselves we apply to it, it will amplify. Good or bad.

It can be intimidating putting your foot into the global arena. Hell, it's intimidating putting your foot into a local one. I am of the belief that even if it is unpleasant, it is important that we have the courage to say what we are thinking. The internet is one such arena where it seems incresingly the case that the forces of propaganda, fear mongering, trolling and utter misinformation are running rampant and radicalising otherwise decent people.

With all of that deception out there in the world, it is now more important than it has ever been for the common person to speak their mind, even if they are wrong because that is how you become right. You cannot consider your initial thoughts about a problem to be accurate necessarily simply based on the fact they are yours. What is more important is that you have something to contribute to the discussion that everyone involved would probably be better off if you said it. Regardless of if they agree or not. You must approach these conversations with as much humility as you can.

You know how they say sometimes short-term pain leads to long-term benefit? That's a fairly universal rule. Saving money now means more money in the future. Not murdering your boss now means less jail in the future. Saying or hearing something difficult now means more understanding and therefore better action in the future. You are doing everyone involved a favour by speaking your mind in the long run. It is probably one of the most important things any single person can do in their lives.

Don't get me wrong, this is extremely difficult. I am not very good at it myself. To be exceptional, however, is not necessarily about your success in relation to your aims, but about your efforts towards achieving those aims. If you have something to say, you should say it. But you are going to have to be prepared to fight. The reason for this is the same reason you feel the need to say it in the first place. It is because people are all just as sure of themselves as you are. It may be the case that one of you is wrong. It is more likely the case though that both of you are partially right. So add two partially right answers together and potentially learn something.

It takes a great deal of effort to convince another polarised person that there is some validity in what you think, no matter how obvious it seems to you. Of course, you may be wrong which is something else you must consider as a possibility. But until you have been offered a counter point that does make you question what you think, hold your ground.

The crew drowns if they boat is sinking but everyone is too meek to raise the alarm.