Watch your mouth.
Mind your business.
Don’t start none, won’t be none.
I’m confident that there is a demographic of the US Population that is very familiar with the above three sentences. So familiar in fact, that they can probably recall the last time they heard an elder tell them one of the three, or the last that they impressed upon someone younger one of the three. I’d also bet that for folk that fit into that group, PC culture is not difficult to adhere to. More than likely they have no qualms with transitioning from the golden rule ( do unto others as you would have others do unto you) to the platinum rule (treat others how they would like to be treated).
There is a completely different group of people from my country who are hysterical as fuck that they cannot just say whatever they want to, to whomever they want to, about any old stupid thing whenever they feel like it. This group of people learned a little bit about free speech in school and they like to use that as an excuse to cover themselves for being inconsiderate, malicious, discriminatory and ignorant. For some reason, they are unaware that free speech protections come from the government. The government will not retaliate against you but that does not mean that you will not meet and face consequences from your family, your neighbors, your employers etc. These folk are so bent out of shape about it, that they are actually whining (many of them with huge audiences and megaphones) that they are being infringed upon because they are asked to be wise in their speech in public, and have obviously previously been untouched by public correction. These folk also have a tendency to feel that having to apologize for an error in public speech so often because they can’t stop fucking it up, somehow invalidates their existence.
In an effort to assist, I’d like to formally introduce anyone reading this who was previously unfamiliar to these three sentences that I learned as a child, and hope it guides you into the future of human interaction where many of the rest of us already exist and have resided.
1) WATCH YOUR MOUTH.
We all have thoughts and are free to think whatever we choose. Sometimes, we might be angry or upset and feel like we need to express our disapproval about a grievance. It is critical to remember that if it is another human being that has said something to hurt you, or that you think is morally, fundamentally or logically wrong, that when you decide to correct them, that you are cautious about how your words are received. No one wants to be yelled at. No one can learn in an atmosphere of threats. No one will listen if the speaker is insulting them. When I was taught to watch my mouth it essentially meant, you can feel that you have every right to say something about a situation and STILL get popped in the face for it immediately depending on who you are talking to and what about. To avoid any such retribution/retaliation it was critical to be mindful of how the message is being delivered and whether it is effective and appropriate or not. For example, if a 3 year old spills some juice on a table the appropriate response is not fuck you, you stupid little bitch, why are you such a dick? Or, if a man or woman has told you that they have specific pronouns they prefer using, it’s also not recommended to say That is so dumb, god made you a girl so I’m calling you she, deal with it. If you are a public figure for whom anonymity is gone and you make your money by the support of your patrons, it may not be the most advantageous thing to do to go off on a tangent and say homeless people are losers, get a job you lazy bastards. Can you think all of these things in all of these scenarios if you would like? Certainly. Does it make sense to make the 3 year old cry though, or upset the person who would like to be referred to as ‘they’ causing them to no longer agree to work or even communicate with you, or to alienate your entire audience because of your opinion about people who have lived on the street in their lives? This is not the recipient being too sensitive; this is you being inconsiderate of others, like only you and your one-sided opinion counts. These scenarios are a good time to employ watching your mouth. When you take the time to be thoughtful about what needs to be said and keep the rest to yourself, often there is peace. For some of us, we have had decades of practice at this and therefore it is very simple to do. For others, it is never too late to start watching your mouth and it really is very easy to learn.
2) MIND YOUR BUSINESS.
You’ve been fully vaccinated and others have not. So you go on social media and tell everyone who has not been vaccinated how stupid they are. You have a religious belief and it is important to you. So you create a video and share it with the world telling everyone who believes differently that they are basically a piece of shit. You have considerable savings, generational wealth, a big family and disposable income, so you feel like anyone who does not is dumb, a waste of space and not worthy of living and you make it a point to put it into a TikTok with catchy background music. If any of the folk that you are addressing with your opinions get offended and decide to retaliate against you, you cannot respond with free speech. You are talking to people about people and just like you, people have the right to be upset by what you say when it relates to them if it is not useful, not respectful and unkind. Being ignorant of others is no excuse when we all have access to the world wide web, and can literally research anything before we speak up on it. If your intention behind what you say is to educate others, then take it from a teacher, you can only educate in non hostile environments. If your intention is to ridicule and embarrass, understand that spontaneous trait transference is real and if you are not an expert, do not have verifiable facts from reputable resources for your argument, you will be met with the same crass, distasteful and mean spirited responses and a terrible reputation. If it has nothing to do with you, does not impact you in any way, and nothing new or positive is gained from your rant, what was it’s real purpose? We are all entitled to hold whatever opinions we choose but we are not entitled to make other human beings uncomfortable because we don’t readily or innately understand why something is happening. Each of us can only control ourselves. Even opinion columnists and reporters have to ensure that the verbiage they are using is conducive to understanding by an audience, and they too receive backlash when they have not done the research required to speak on a particular topic. Can you have an opinion on vaginas if you don’t have one? Of Course. But if you apply minding your business, you will not rely on your uneducated opinion before you make a statement, you’ll actually ask the people from a genuine heart to help answer your questions or use Bing/Safari/Firefox/Google instead of saying things to or about them that are venomous and unnecessarily aggressive. Many folk like myself, were taught to mind our business as children, and so as the landscape and population and vernacular and rules of engagement change in life, we are easily able to adapt and transition without feeling like we are being silenced. Being respectful of others is always a good look and not difficult. It might sound corny if you’ve never heard it before but “if you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all”, is a pretty popular and common phrase and will never go out of style.
3) DON’T START NONE, WON’T BE NONE.
If you don’t want problems with other people, then the process is simple, don’t start any problems. If you have guns and love them, cool. If you want to post pictures of yourself online at the firing range blasting the hell out of shit, go for it. Think for a second though, do you HAVE to caption the photo : NOBODY is taking my fucking guns, they’ll die first! Or, I’m not a victim, I know how to shoot! When you do this, you are inviting others to comment and respond. Remember, social media really is for interacting socially ( its also a marketing platform and you are the product but that is a different topic). When you say these kinds of things, even if they are things that you feel are correct, because you have opened up the door to others to respond, keep in mind that they may have a different opinion than you do, and since you have put this out on a public forum, they too may respond in that same public space in the same kind of tone. If you can handle the negative feedback you might receive, okay then, but entities that you are associated with, like your church or your kid’s softball league that have access to your social profiles might not feel like your opinions reflect their values and they may choose to disassociate with you because of it. Is it wrong for you to have said these things? Not necessarily, but acting as if you are beyond reproach is selfish and will not be tolerated by everyone. Saying that you have been attacked when you essentially STARTED IT, will not stop the onslaught of potentially negative feedback you might receive. Think all boys should look like they are in the military? Okay. Do you have to go up to every man you see in heels and TELL HIM to his face that you don’t like his clothing? No, you don’t. If you had adhered to number one and number two, you won’t have any issues with that man, and guess what, you are successfully doing number 3 by not starting anything. You might not be aware of it but some people are attacked constantly because people don’t know these three phrases. They are mistreated because of how they look, where they were born, the color of their skin, their size and all sorts of things. They are touched, mocked, abused, assaulted physically and verbally hundreds of times a day- and the people who do these things to them say, you’re a snow flake, don’t be so sensitive, lighten up, you’re a punk. It never occurs to folk who are unaffected by all this constant hate that these folks are just existing, have every right to like every one else but are always put on the defensive for essentially being different in one way or another. Do you have to like dark skinned females or Muslims? Nope. Do you have to support Planned Parenthood or think the earth is round? Not at all. But when you say things out of your mouth to others, you are opening up for others to respond to you, and you should expect that their response will come in a form that is the same tone of what you put out there. Everybody doesn’t have to be just like you or agree with you and guess what, everything that you think you are not required to utter. Each individual is not the government, so your speech is not free when it comes to personal or social or public communication. There can and will be dissenting views in an environment where everyone has a voice. Having questions about something is one thing and there are tons of resources for every topic where an individual can be educated. It is not too much work to treat other human beings with the same decency, thoughtfulness, kindness and respect that you hope for in the very least.
Maybe no one taught you these three phrases as a child and now as an adult, you feel put up on that everything you say is corrected “these days”. For some of us, this is how it has always been. My recommendation, if you are open to it, is to use these three phrases before you say anything out loud to others. Let’s say for example, you think people with large noses are ugly.
If you say to yourself, watch your mouth, you might think, you know what, it is totally okay that I feel this way, but it might hurt someone’s feelings if I say it to people for no reason and since I don’t want to do that, I will just keep that thought to myself. If you say to yourself when having this large nose ugly thought, mind your business, you might remember that not everyone feels like this about large noses, especially people who have them, and since you aren’t trying to love or date any of them, saying this without any prompt to do so, might hurt other people without provocation so even though it is your preference it does not have to be public knowledge. Finally, if you have this large nose problem and you recall Don’t Start None, Won’t Be None, you won’t get hundreds of messages on Twitter from people telling you how unattractive, useless, fat, stupid, ignorant and worthless you are for months and months on end. Nobody will turn your highschool picture, the one you took before you had rhinoplasty, into tee-shirts or memes. All of that will be avoided by being mindful of what you say that might cause problems that you didn’t need, want or intend when you shared a random thoughtless opinion that provided no value to anyone anywhere. No apology tour required.
We are responsible for what we each do and say, always have been and if you have not been held to this standard until now, it is okay. No body is trying to silence you. Nobody is trying to erase you. Nobody is being “a pussy”. As social beings all we are really asked of one another when we communicate is to be decent if we expect to be understood and heard. Having said all of that I am the rudest motherfucker that I know. I say reckless shit all of the time and I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about it. But I also have suicidal ideations and emotional regulation issues which I am currently in therapy for. However, I was taught these 3 phrases before I was taught to love myself and I don’t say shit to anyone that I can’t back up or am not willing to die behind if the situation demands it. Even with all of that, you won’t catch me using free speech as my reasoning for being a loud mouthed fucked up individual. I’m an asshole with nothing to prove and I am also unloved. There is still no excuse for my behavior and we all have room for improvement if we care about ourselves and others at all. When you see or hear from people out in the world like me, don’t try to emulate us, we are struggling. If you can use these three phrases to get along better with other humans, try it. You might find it’ll stop you from getting your ass beat so much.