At the beginning of June I started using Charity Miles. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a little app on the phone that logs your miles (running, biking or walking) and donates to charity based on your mileage and the charity you choose from their extensive, though not exhaustive, list of options.
When you’ve completed a run (or ride or walk) it asks you if you’d like to share your progress with the world via twitter or facebook. I’ve done this a few times.
Last week, I received a reply on twitter to my posted progress. I assumed it was my cousin, Max, or some unknown runner trolling hashtags and offering support – as is often the case.
I had received a reply from a stranger who took to twitter to knock the charity I chose
Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to support the same charities that I do. You do not need to agree with my choices. I’m not asking you to support anything with me.
But I also did not ask for the general public to let me know their opinions or share “facts” about a charity that I happen to know very well from the inside and out. I’m happy to accept your views, but why was it directed AT me? I mean, the dude told me to stop supporting the cause I chose.
This kind of unsolicited information struck me as odd and then I realized that this happens all the time.
You should stop eating carbs. Diet coke is worse for you than regular coke. Those are like, the worst running shoes…they’ll destroy your feet. You should only wash your hair every 3 or 4 days. Interval training is better for your health. You should put 1/2 your paycheck into a savings account. A glass of wine a day is good for you. Drinking even one glass of wine will kill you.
It goes on an on, you guys. I’m sure people mostly mean well. Thing is, your “facts” are unsolicited. I don’t need or want to hear about it. Unless I ask you what you know about Charity X, maybe just keep your mouth shut? I’m all for open discussion and free speech…
…but don’t direct it at me unless we’re discussing together.
You know who this happens to the most? Pregnant people and new parents. As soon as you’re pregnant or a new mother, everyone seems to know the exact right thing for you to do. And it’s clear they mean well (hopefully – if they don’t, immediately remove those people from your life forever) but what the hell do they know? Even doctors have a “practice.” Nothing is factual. Shit, 50 years ago cars didn’t have seat belts, let alone car seats for infants.
That’s an extreme example of a larger concept. Yes, I think kids should be in car seats. What I don’t think is that you (every single “you” out there) know what is right based solely on the internet research you’ve read and the things you’ve done with your kid.
Unless someone asks you “what foods do you think I should not feed to my 2 year old?” randomly stopping to tell a parent that the best diet for a toddler is a gluten free diet is kind of condescending and totally not your place.
Actually, come to think of it, people are too cavalier with others about pregnancy and parenting.
Ladies (sorry guys, this doesn’t apply to you), have you ever been asked how far along you are? I have. You know when you can ask a woman how far along she is?
This makes everyone uncomfortable. The girl who is not pregnant feels depressed and fat. The person who asked is embarrassed.
This is, of course, unless the girl who is asked is a complete fucking asshole like me. Exhibit A: that one time I got asked how far along I am…
Random Dude (RD): How far along are you?
Me: [pause because I don’t know what he’s talking about because I was not pregnant…then devise an asshole plan] about 4 months.
RD: Is it a boy or a girl?
Me: Oh [awkward pause for effect] yeah… um… I’m not keeping it
RD: [literally says nothing and walks away]
Never ask that question. Never assume someone is pregnant. EVER. No matter how much they aren’t drinking; how often they touch their stomach; how many times they run to the bathroom to vomit. When a woman says “This pregnancy is killing me!” or something similar, THEN you can ask her how far along she is.
Let’s flip this a bit. What about when you know someone is pregnant? Say they announced it on Facebook or told your cousin…then what?
Sure, you’re more likely to be safe asking them how far along they are, but what happens if they had a complication? Or they have a lot of negative symptoms and are extremely unhappy? Or, worst case scenario, what if they lost the baby? Again, maybe you’d be better off letting the probably pregnant woman bring up her pregnancy first.
Okay, those make sense. What about that newlywed couple I know who wanted kids?? Can I talk to them about pregnancy?
Can you? Sure. But consider this: what if they’re trying and being unsuccessful in their attempts to become pregnant. What if you ask “when are you going to pop out some babies?” and they go home to cry for the 250th night in a row that the at home test still has no double lines?
All of this is just to say we should be more careful with our words.
Maybe we should be more careful with HOW we use our words. Maybe we should find the fine line between an open discussion and a directed explosion of “facts” that we just HAD to share with a stranger. Maybe we should assume we know nothing about others and what works for them in their life. Maybe we should be more sensitive to others who may or may not be fighting a battle with their baby incubators.
And definitely, never ever, EVER, E-V-E-R ask a woman how far along she is even as her water breaks… but maybe do offer to help her call someone or get her to the hospital..