It happened down in Birdland

17 10 2018

Twitter ain’t all bad.

It ain’t all good, either, but I have discovered something tremendously useful: how not to say anything.

Now, many of you may have learned this particular lesson oh-so-long ago, but it’s one that took is taking me awhile. I mean, I once introduced myself as someone who “has lunch and opinions.”

I don’t necessarily have to opine on every little thing, but if I don’t know something, then I’ll jump right in with the what’s-its and how’s-its and whatnot; if I don’t have answers, I can at least have questions.

But on Twitter I am uncharacteristically quiet. I retweet often but comment rarely, and when I do tweet something, I try for shorter rather than longer. And if I’m uncertain of whether or not to tweet, I don’t.

Me! Not saying something! That never happens.

I don’t necessarily fill every space I’m in with words, but it is the case that if I’m in a group and I go awhile without saying anything, others will comment on it. It’s nice sometimes just to listen, but I also feel as if I’m not showing sufficient interest in others if I don’t say something—anything—at some point in the conversation.

But on Twitter? Nobody knows I’m there, so nobody cares if I’m piping up or not.

Also, while I can be witty, so can everyone else, and they’re all quicker on the Send than I am. When that happens, which is almost always, I don’t need to chime in with the same note.

So I simply enjoy hanging out in the blue bird’s unruly parlor, letting whatever comes, come, and letting everything go, too.

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I have no opinion about that

4 09 2011

Riddle me this how do we decide how much info/understanding should we have about a topic before we feel justified in having an opinion that is more than a gut hunch? —dmf

I once introduced myself to colleague as someone who “has lunch and opinions”, so I can’t say that it ever occurred to me that I needed to justify the having of an opinion. As far back as I can remember, I have had opinions about something or another, from the superiority of homemade jello pops over store-bought popsicles to the belief that swimming was the summer activity, to the obviousness that racism was stupid and girls were equal to boys, and on and on about cars and music and food and friendship and clothes and alcohol and sex and money and liberty and justice for all.

No, for me, the corker was justifying not having an opinion.

I do, in fact, now qualify my opinions in ways I didn’t when younger, and I do justify not having opinions about a whole range of topics, based on 1) lack of information and 2) lack of interest. “Don’t know/don’t care” is a pretty damned effective gate to conversations which would otherwise drive me off a cliff.

Still, I don’t regret my previous opinion libertinism, and I don’t begrudge anyone else their expressive needs. I learned a lot in spouting off, both in how to put together an argument and in prompting others to take issue with me. I hate hate hate to be wrong, but I hate even more the persistence of error. I could—and can—also be sloppy in my pronunciamentos, so getting smacked (or wanting to avoid getting smacked) for spilling too many words has forced me to steady my tongue.

(There’s the additional question of credentialism and the desire not to want to make a fool of oneself in front of one’s colleagues which may lead to a crippling reticence, i.e., in not challenging a majority view for fear that the mere expression of a minority opinion marks one as untrustworthy—but that’s a separate issue.)

Given my own history, then, I’m more likely to indulge than shut down opinionists, especially if they’re willing to go back and forth on an issue. Shooting the shit can be an highly enjoyable way of passing the time.

What I do narrow my eyes at are those who state their opinions as fact and who substitute their subjective experiences for objective certainty. That you have a right to an opinion doesn’t mean you have the right to trump all other opinions. Oh, and shouting doesn’t make you right. (*Full disclosure: I have shouted. More than once.)

So anyone can have any opinion about anything. If, however, you want that opinion to have any weight with anyone else, you gotta do the work—the (self-)education, the reflection, the reasoning—to convince them. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones got it right when she admonished: Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflict.

Educate yourself. Quite so.





All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter

24 09 2009

Confessions of a cranky old broad:

I never think I’ve slept too much. I’m suspicious of the notion of too much sleep.

However. I used to think there was no such thing as too much coffee, garlic, or salt. I no longer do.

Never ever ever tell me I think too much. Never. Ever. NeverEver.

Ever.

Because I don’t.

Although I do talk too much.

Anyway, my friend B. came up with an insight that I’ve repeated to others over the years: I drink Tab so I can eat more Snickers bars. Unimpeachable, really.

Never tell me what I think—unless you want me to sever your head. If you want to know, ask.

If you don’t, don’t ask.

Tits forward is a fine substitute for balls forward.

I’m not a badass—but I like that I give off that impression. (Now, why is it again that I don’t date?)

I only do things which are a hassle for two reasons: 1) they’re necessary; or 2) I get paid. This explains why I’m not on Facebook.

This may also explain why I don’t date.

Academic journal publishing is a racket. Your competitors—oh, excuse me, your colleagues—review your work, and then, if the piece is published (sometime in the next year), not only only do you not get paid, you have to pay for reprints.

And no one will read the article anyway—possibly including your reviewers.

I’m using a couple of books in my classes which argue for a moral approach to political problems. How about a political approach to  political problems?

I am a fair-weather Packer fan. If, however, I lived in Wisconsin, I would almost certainly hate them.

Still wouldn’t root for the Vikings, tho’.

Bad taste is good if it’s funny.

You can get away with almost anything if you’re funny.

But woe unto you for offending without eliciting a laugh.

A good protest has humor, music, and an end time.

New York is a pit. I kinda like that. Except in August.

I sometimes wonder if I moved to New York because I figured this would be the place to be when the world ends.

You can die in a dream without dying in real life.

I don’t think chocolate is candy. Especially dark chocolate.

Coffee is the elixir of life.

(Another anecdote, this time from Linda Ellerbee: She made note of reporter Andrea Mitchell’s response to the question of what she did to relax. I drink coffee!)

It’s sweet that people think I became a vegetarian for health reasons. As I like to point out, Doritos are vegetarian.

Another bit of wisdom from B.: Tell people you’re 10 years older than you are. They’ll think you look great for your age.

I will steal words and phrases from other people if I can get away with it. Most new slang is off limits, however, since as an old white woman I most definitely cannot get away with it. (Although I’m still trying to work in mad as an adverb or adjective.)

When people tell me I spoil my cats I think, Duh. Why else have ’em if you can’t spoil them?

I look forward to claiming the title of ‘crone’.

But not just yet.