I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Where I live, the cultural expectation is outspoken frankness and people are generally pretty passionate about their views. They say what they think, and they feel free to disagree. It’s all good. Everyone chinks beers at the end of the day and toasts each other.
But that doesn’t always fly in a virtual world. I’m terribly conscious that offending other people is very easy to do. The online personality you portray could upset others, your personal views could alienate readers, or and the type of comments you make on other blogs could offend people.
Still, where is the line? When someone tells you the sky is red and you know it’s blue, should you debate the point? If someone comes out with a highly skeptical statement, should you call the person out? If someone says, “I can fly,” is it alright to respond with: “Prove it.”
This recent claim in the comment section on a post at Freelance Writing Gigs got me started: “I’m probably doing ten of them an hour – meaning I’m working at 50 dollars an hour.” We’re talking 500 words an article, folks. 10 of ’em. Per hour. That’s an article every six minutes.
“Let it go,” Harry would say. “It isn’t important. It doesn’t matter.” But it matters to me when people make questionable claims. I think to myself, who might come along afterwards, read this, and think it’s true – and not only true, but very possible and common?
I don’t think that’s right.
So sometimes I just can’t help myself. I call a spade a spade, and I might call out people who seem to be bullshitting everyone. Does that get me in trouble? Oh yes. Do my actions hurt me or the business? Possibly. I’ve been warned once or twice for not wording my comments very well. (Sorry, Deb. Note to all readers: Even when telling someone you don’t believe them, do it politely. Word it properly.)
But if we all swallow what everyone says without speaking up, what kind of world would we live in? Why is it wrong to say, “I don’t believe you,” and why does saying that we don’t believe someone make us impolite? Why should we accept what people say at face value and keep our mouths shut when we disagree?
“Because I’m really not interested in putting out fires, James,” Harry would say. “But if you’re going to do it,” he’ll add, knowing full well that sometimes, I just can’t help myself, “Can you do it on a day that we’re both here to manage the flames?”