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You know what they say opinions are like and we’ve all got them. The expression of our opinions is often as welcome as what comes out of the bodily orifice I’m referring to.

It seems like we have an epidemic of self-expression these days. We do it in blogs, in replies to online articles, in texts and of course, in conversations. In most of those cases, our opinions are solicited, either directly or implied by creating a means for those who wish to reply to do so. There is nothing wrong inherently with expressing oneself. However, like any freedom of speech, it should be done responsibly and appropriately.

Too often that’s not the case. Of course, much of what you read as Internet opinion is the product of teens and pre-teens trying to provoke a reaction, but a good deal of it is from people genuinely expressing how they feel. Some of what they feel can be boiled down to “you suck,” “he sucks,” “she sucks” or “it sucks.” It’s a veritable suckfest of suckology.

Then again, there are those who like to waste everybody’s time by proclaiming to one and all that they really could care less about the subject. If that’s the case, why bother taking up bandwidth by saying it? People who really don’t care rarely bother to even respond to a subject they don’t care about. I’m not a big opera fan, so I generally don’t weigh in with my opinions about opera on pages where that kind of thing is expressed. Not only am I ignorant of opera (which any knowledgeable opera fan would immediately realize from reading my uninformed remarks) but what I have seen and heard doesn’t speak to me at all. I don’t generally like writing about things I can’t connect with.

I’ve often found that most opinions on political and news items tend to be ill-informed; grammar and spelling errors are so rampant that I don’t even bother getting upset about it anymore, except for an occasional outburst that is much like Don Quixote tilting at windmills; it doesn’t accomplish anything ultimately but it does make me feel better – and the windmills don’t care. It seems to me that people are quite happy to be ignorant and in fact, they are proud of their ignorance. People who can spell are, in some online circles, regarded with suspicion. The internet is in danger of becoming the new hillbilly society; “We don’t cotton to book learnin’ much round these parts.”

But those are cases where opinions are encouraged. Generally, in real life, we rarely want to hear someone else’s opinions on what we do and how we act. Now, people expressing themselves in that regard is nothing new, but I believe that due to the solicitation of opinion on the Internet, people these days are becoming more and more expressive of their opinions offline as well, even when they aren’t welcome and are inappropriate.

I have been fighting my weight most of my adult life. Part of being overweight means dealing with people staring at you, or making jokes about you. On occasion, small children will come up to you and say, quite firmly, “Mister, you’re fat!” to which I generally congratulate them on their powers of observation. Sometimes, a mortified parent will say something to them and make a red-faced apology. I recognize that children have to learn the art of self-censorship and I’m not offended by it. However, when teenagers do it – when adults do it – I feel no problem ripping them a new one. If you open up a can of worms, you’d better be prepared to eat them.

Of course, there are always the well-meaning sorts who will say “You know I’ve been on this particular diet and I’ve lost a lot of weight with it” to which, depending on my mood, I’ll either politely thank them for their support or express interest in the diet. Others will ask me if I’ve ever considered bariatric surgery, to which I always respond “Thanks, but I’ve lost over 100 pounds with diet and exercise and I would much prefer to continue on that route instead.” Usually people will drop the subject after that.

Then there are the comedians. People who will snigger and say “Mister, why don’t you try a salad once in awhile?” and then guffaw at their own cleverness. I will generally bat my eyelashes and say “Why, what a brilliant idea! I wish I’d thought of it. I think I’ll go lose some weight and while I do, I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m not an asshole – assholes are forever, after all.”

And what is it about pregnant women that we absolutely lose our minds over? I’m talking to you, ladies. Why do we think that just because a woman is pregnant we can just put our hands on her tummy without so much as a fare-thee-well? Why does your need to put your hands on new life overrule a pregnant woman’s need for personal space? How would you feel if I were to walk up to you and do a spontaneous breast exam? I’d probably at the very least get my face slapped, and could reasonably expect to have the cops called and maybe, even get my ass sued. Why should putting your hands on another woman’s belly be any different?

Oh, and for the record, nobody wants to hear your delivery horror story. Once again, I’m talking to you, ladies. Why do you feel it necessary to regale your pregnant friends with stories about your own labor, only to end it with “but it was so worth it in the end.” This is especially heinous when you’re talking to first-time moms who are nervous enough about the delivery process as it is. This is a peculiarly female phenomenon; guys aren’t likely to come up to a pregnant lass and say “Pregnant, huh? Well, my wife just had a baby…she was in labor for eleven days, and she was screaming the entire time. The nurses forgot to give her painkillers and gave her aspirin instead. We haven’t had sex since.” That simply doesn’t happen.

And ladies, nobody wants your advice on raising a child unless they ask for it. If you come upon a woman in the store shopping for diapers with her five-day-old baby, don’t ask her if she was aware that was too young for a baby to be out. For all you know, she may have just been getting back from a doctor’s appointment for her baby and needed some things at the grocery store for the baby and had nobody to go out and get them for her. And, quite frankly, just because you think you know what’s good for babies doesn’t mean you know. Babies are a lot hardier than you think they are. Women in rural parts of Asia and Africa deliver their kids in the fields where they work and often keep on working while the baby sits in swaddling clothes in a wicker basket nearby. Is that ideal? No, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

The title of this piece is an acronym. MYOB stands for “Mind Your Own Business.” If you don’t know what the MF portion stands for, you are far more civil than I, gentle reader. It means that nobody but nobody is qualified to tell another human being how they should live. Even my own mother, who I love very much and respect as much as I respect any human walking around today, doesn’t have that right with me, and I am far more likely to accept her opinion than some yahoo on the street. Only my wife really has the right to express that opinion to me, mainly because what I do affects her as we happen to live together. She’s earned the right and moreover, she uses that right responsibly.

That’s where it ends though. Yes, I realize that often in my blogs I express a general complaint against the human condition or human nature, but that’s not directed at anyone specific. I might sometimes be inspired by what I hear from my friends (as indeed this blog was) to turn my analysis towards a specific issue but I wouldn’t complain about a friend, even indirectly, nor would I judge them. If I have any wisdom at all, it is the wisdom of knowing that I’m not qualified to judge anybody’s life, nor is that judgment welcome. In the unlikely event someone asks me what I think of their choices, then I’ll tell them but otherwise it ain’t my place to say anything.

Believe me I know that bottling that kind of thing up can be tough. There are people who I love and care about who do things that I know are destructive and are going to wind up causing them grief in the long run (or even in the short term). There are times that I just want to shake them and scream in their faces “WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?” However, I’ve learned the hard way that it rarely, if ever, works. If people are going to change, it has to come from within. All we can do is give them our love and support until they do. There are occasions – such as when dealing with addicts or criminal behavior – that for our own self-preservation we have to move on and let them sink or swim on their own. One thing is true; our opinions are rarely productive and unless invited, should be left un-uttered. If you want people to ask for advice, don’t give it out unsolicited. That which is rarely given, after all, is more highly prized than that which is easily obtained.


5 Responses

  1. Americans are known for their openess compared to say the more reserved English, but good manners are good manners, I guess we’re losing them. You know the Romans offered bread or circuses. There is little bread for some today and the circuses being offered are all our new electronic toys, which have also created so much more openess.

  2. I would have to say hey “MYOFB” when I am angered by this same behavior. You are so right, and I can tell you from working with the mentally ill I see this attitude way too often.and not only can it be offensive but it also shows me how many people need some serious sensitivity training. Comments like “thats so gay” and “what a retard also are all too often thrown around, it is just callous and unnecessary, Nice blog!

  3. Eloquently put, my friend. Your words ring so true!

    (and not just the middle portion of the blog. Lol. I do so love you for that!)

    The beginning portion and last paragraph seem like thoughts you plucked from my very own brain!

  4. I absolutely hated the movie Greenberg with Ben Stiller, it was excruciatingly boring, but one great scene came out of it where Ben was lecturing a bunch of kids at a teen party: “The thing about you kids is that you’re all kind of insensitive. I’m glad I grew up when I did. I’m freaked out by you kids cause your parents were too perfect to parenting. All that baby Mozart and Dan Zanes songs. You’re all ADD and carpal tunnel. I hope I die before I end up meeting one of you in a job interview.” And I see that so much in kids today, who seem to have grown up fearless and with a keen sense of entitlement, especially when giving their unsolicited opinions, in such a way it leaves no room for argument or disagreement… because they said it, it must be so. *sighs*

  5. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds

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