I learned very early in my writing journey that the only thoughts I have control over what people think of them are those I haven’t shared yet.
In this edition of Social Rhetoric, we are going to crush your fears. That concern of what people will think of your post. The one that made you leave so many thoughts unpublished. Thoughts that would have made an echo in someone’s life.
Your fears are misplaced. Whenever you ask ‘What will people think of my post’ you ask the wrong question. There is no “people.” Let me explain:
Like I said in this article, when you are writing a thought, or idea (post), you are not writing one post. You are writing 100s of posts.
That’s because many people are going to read and understand it differently. It is going to find people in a different state of mind or environment that may affect their judgment. How can you control that? Should you care?
Let’s say that you care. This means you craft something that succeeds to get everyone to agree with what you have said. Well, then you should not have said it. You just said something so basic that has been said over and over. You held back your thoughts, you were not communicating, you were simply sharing information.
Even when two or three people leave negative comments, it is two out of how many received the message –200? Strangely, we tend to be bothered by the small number of negative comments than the majority of positive ones.
Online discourse is about sharing insights that can be accrued to your name. If it is unique and valuable, society rewards you. If it is bad, you bear the brunt of criticism. The last time I checked, people were still forgiving.
The only thought you have control over what people think of it is the one you have not shared yet. Once you click publish, it is no longer in your control and in most cases not your responsibility what people make of it.
Promise yourself this
If you discover that you have a voice that needs an outlet, then give that voice an outlet. Which is to say post online. If you discover that you have a way of presenting things in a way that people get interested to listen, then it is irresponsible not to do so.
Also what if you are not writing to present-day humans? People who lived 100 years ago are speaking to us through their writings. What if you’re speaking to someone in the future -should you care what present humans think of it?
When I started reading philosophy, I came across Hannah Arendt, a historian and political philosopher whose work has been resoundingly successful at provoking thought and discussion.
Reflecting on her work towards the end of her life, she said this:
“Each time you write something and you send it out into the world and it becomes public, obviously everybody is free to do with it what he pleases, and this is as it should be. I do not have any quarrel with this. You should not try to hold your hand now on whatever may happen to what you have been thinking for yourself. You should rather try to learn from what other people do with it.”
I think this means ‘Just Post It‘