Recently, I wrote a column that apparently angered some readers as well as a dear friend of mine. Upon reflection, I realized that I probably have diarrhea of the mouth (or pen) and, sort of like Tourette syndrome I sometimes don’t censor my thoughts very well. I’ve since deleted that column. So, as a sort of penance and caution to others, I’m writing this column to encourage THINKING before speaking whatever comes to your mind, or hitting “publish” without careful reflection.
There are some topics that are simply toxic. With #DadChat, I’ve tackled religion, God, sexual abuse, politics, but not (yet) race. And, now I won’t since the column that got me in so much trouble had the temerity to talk about race.
A white guy CANNOT write about race without being called a “racist” no matter what HE says. I wrote about race. I agonized over that post. I tried to moderate my ideas as carefully as I could and to be clear that there was NO racism intended or implied in my post. I’m married to a woman of another race. My kids are bi-racial. HELLO!
All those other topics I can do and I’ve done with little backlash. Heck, when the Occupy Movement was going on, I took them on with a very direct attack and got lots of blowback. But nothing as personal (a hurt friend who won’t talk to me now) compared to the reaction I got when I published my column about “Black and White” women.
WHAT was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. Clearly!
So, my lesson. Take on what YOU can talk about. Leave “race” to others. At this point in our culture, race is simply toxic and, in my opinion, we’ve a real problem regarding race when, ironically, we’ve made so much progress. But, I won’t and can’t change the world and the prejudices present when I – a white guy – tries to take on race. I won’t do it anymore, in public.
My advice to YOU. Be careful what you tweet, what you write. And, ask others first if the topic might be bothersome to some. Ask others to read it and honestly critique it before you publish it. Be OPEN to what they have to say.
I sort of like the fact that now that I’m “older” I can sort of say whatever I feel and get a “pass” because I’m “older.” THAT is an excuse. I still need to be careful about what I say and whom I say it to. Discretion NEVER hurts.
With Social Media, it’s SO EASY to put out anything in an instant. That “instant” can hurt us so very much. EVERYTHING we put out on Social Media is irretrievable. Sure, you can delete something (as I did with “that” column), but once it’s been “published” or tweeted or facebooked, IT IS OUT THERE forever. I still don’t know if the one “friend” I indirectly offended will forgive me. What a shame.
Don’t be naïve. Be smart. Be careful. Be thoughtful.
Ironic postscript: I’m back in “relationship” with the friend that was “offended.” BUT, it turns out that friend NEVER read the column that I assumed had caused the offense. It was something else. NOTHING I say in this column is invalidated by this irony. I am so sensitive to talking about race that I assumed this was the root cause of her anger. Again, ironic…