“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
That sage advice goes hand-in-hand with “think before you speak” (or type, or text).
Both adages seem to have disappeared from the spectrum of modern human interaction. Comments on social media, blogs, product reviews, news articles, you name it, indicate a serious filter failure between brain and fingers for a wide segment of the population.
I’ve broken down these groups into three categories: doomers, gloomers, and guilters. While I’m sure I’ve been guilty myself, I’m purposing to set these nasty behaviors aside.
First, there are the doomers…
This week I stared, aghast, at the comments on a pregnant woman’s FB post about the impending birth of her first child. Her “friends” began telling her she was sure to need a Cesarean, that she shouldn’t even bother to try labor without an epidural, and that she should expect complications.
Hello? When a woman is getting ready to give birth, please don’t share your horrific birth stories. As the mother of four myself, my favorite was the “helpful” woman who told me she’d dreamed I had to birth baby #4 alone in a cabin while snowed in during a blizzard. Um. Not helpful.
The same rule holds true for people who are getting married (don’t tell them about your nasty divorce), taking a trip (leave off sharing that story about the stranded cruise ship, the plane crash, or the lost luggage), having surgery (keep your complications to yourself), or generally doing anything. Doomers, I believe, are well-meaning, just misguided. If you tend toward being a doomer, try this: simply wish people well and shut up. If you are genuinely concerned for them, pray. Silently.
And then there are the gloomers…
Closely related to the doomers, these folks like to color everything they see and hear with their own special shade of misery. They shake their heads when you tell them you bought a __________, and then tell you all the ways it’s going to fail. These are the people who curse you to a season of sickness because you *gasp* got a flu shot. They’re everywhere, the Chicken Littles of the world, the nay-sayers.
Gloomers are also most likely to “share” those scary posts and emails about the impending failure of the government, or how there are contaminated needles in the coin returns on vending machines, or all the possible symptoms of the cancer-of-the-month that you probably have. In their defense, gloomers must feel things very, very deeply, and are probably the least selfish of the three. Are you a gloomer? Try spreading a little sunshine instead, it might just make YOU feel better.
Of the three, my least favorite are the guilters…
Guilters are sneaky, passive-aggressive, and terribly selfish. These are the women who use tears, on purpose, to get their husbands to do what they want. These are the men who pout, or rage, or belittle, until those around them cower and comply. These are the relatives who spend a good percentage of the year traveling, because they have free time and disposable income, and then whine and complain because their adult children won’t take time off work, load up their own kids, and travel multiple hours for an obligatory holiday visit.
Guilting people is rude, and it makes them resent you. Don’t do it. (By the way, if guilters really bug you, it’s probably because you are a people-pleaser, and that’s a whole ‘nother kind of problem!)
Wouldn’t it make for a lovely holiday if all the guilt, doom, and gloom were taken out of the equation?
I’m going to do my part.