It’s important to realize, especially on a platform like Twitter, that there is no way to know, at first glance, exactly what someone means. I recently took umbrage to a comment made by someone on Twitter. I carried out a verbal skirmish with the individual that led to an offline conversation. In the end, it turned out that we had a pretty similar view on the topics and that I had simply jumped down someone’s throat because I didn’t understand what they were saying in the 140 characters they used.
A few days later, I became involved in a lengthy conversation during which my “opponent” became aggressive and demeaning. In particular, they began to attribute comments and beliefs to me that were inaccurate and merely served to further their own point of view. And it was in that moment that I came to realize what frustrated me so much about the situation. I put my foot in my mouth all the time. I once asked my wife if we could grow pickles. I didn’t know there was caffeine in chocolate. I once sent a text badmouthing my mother in law (sort of) TO my mother in law. I don’t need help. Specifically, kindly remove your foot from my mouth.
It’s something that happens all the time. We have a tendency to assume that we know exactly what someone means. We don’t. Nine times out of ten, our assumptions are false. So try your best not to make them. Instead, try something new; something unique; something outrageous. The next time you think you know exactly what someone is talking about and you’re about to bring down the thunder upon them, maybe try asking what they mean. It’s entirely possible that their intention is not remotely connected to what you would attribute to them.
And when (not if) you find out that you were wrong, have the humanity to be honest about it. I’m wrong. Plenty. And I’ll be one of the first to admit it. But kindly remove your foot from my mouth.