In Praise Of Thoughtfulness

This is not a hot take.  

It’s an ice cold take.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and it is this:  thinking is good.  Thinking before we speak is even better.  Yet, we live in a hot mic world where reflexive self-expression eats contemplation for breakfast and doesn’t leave a tip.

It’s a world that celebrates the insta-pundit, the self-promoter, the meme du jour.  In fact, the rise of the word, “meme” is, in itself, a meme.  That’s ironic and irony is also big these days.  Irony is the pseudo-intellectual’s prophylactic that became a social disease, or at least a disease on social media.  Yet more irony.  Make it stop!

We conflate volume with wisdom.  If you’re omnipresent and loud, you’re worth following.  Our media-saturated culture loves the latest and loudest.  Worse, it encourages mimicry, so we have tens of millions of people trying to be the latest and loudest.  

It’s gotten very noisy.

We know what the noise sounds like in politics:  a dishonest, non-stop food fight that leaves the public worse for wear, whatever our political preference.

We know what the noise sounds like in media and social media: screeching personal assaults and constant, 140-character drive-bys.  There is no shame, nothing we won’t say or do.  In a different time, we’d lose face on Facebook.  Not today.  Our snark earns us shares.

We know what the noise sounds like in the entertainment industry:  famous people playing the expert. Often wrong, never in doubt.  Not when there’s a new pilot to promote.

We even know what this sounds like in business:  the rock star CEO, the Wolves of Wall Street, the Wantrapreneurs, newly minted Masters of the Universe with caffeinated reality shows.  It’s easy if you do it my way.

After a while, loudness damages.  It drives us into fight or flight mode, 24/7, and gives us the incentive to tear down, not build up.  We can do better.

I’m sorry if I’ve added to the din.  That’s not my intention.  I just want to thank all of you--the measured majority--who think before you preach, pose or post.  And I commit to do that myself.

Let’s try some humility and restraint.  Let’s resist the urge to blast, torch or troll.  Let’s share our opinions with decency and a sense of fairness.  And let’s listen.  Not just to respond, but to understand each other.  Let’s look for new information and allow ourselves to be persuaded by it occasionally.  Regardless of the “jersey” worn by the source.  Let’s say we’re sorry when we’re wrong or just overamped.  As I have been too many times.

I can hear all of you thinking.  And it’s a lovely sound.

tom yorton