You just read something. Or you heard something. Or a thought entered your head, and now you have an opinion. So the question is, should you express it; that thought or opinion?

As an avid user of social media, I am consistently amazed at the number of people who feel that every thought that enters their head should come out of their mouth. Why is that?

If I think people with blonde hair are not attractive, and I think people with brown hair are absolutely fantastically attractive, do I need to express that opinion? Or might I want to consider the fact that many people have blonde hair? What does my expression of my opinion add to the world at large? And how might it harm people, whether I intended to or not?

It never hurts to take a moment to consider your opinion before you throw it out there.  What are you adding to the conversation?  Can you add to the conversation without demeaning the opinion or interests of others?  My mom often said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Maybe there’s something to that expression.

So your favorite sport is agility and you don’t like obedience very much. That’s fine. Now can you explain to me why you feel the need to tell people who love obedience how boring it is, and how much better agility is? Remember, if you’re speaking publicly on a Facebook list, you’re talking to thousands, many of whom will love obedience. And if you love obedience, can you explain to me why you feel a need to tell agility competitors how easy their sport is, and how you don’t do it because it offers no challenge?  Have you taken a moment to consider how you just affected an agility competitor who just managed to squeak out their first agility title…barely?

Maybe we don’t have to express every opinion that enters our head. Maybe we could keep in mind that people are individuals with different interests. Some of us prefer one thing, and others prefer another. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; it’s not even a matter of expressing ourselves. Maybe it’s a matter of respect. Admiring that different people can appreciate such different things! Admiring another’s enthusiasm for their sport, without worrying too much about where we might fit inside their world.

Hell, my dad is fascinated by cactus plants, and while I can think of few things that interest me less, for the life of me I cannot think of one reason why I should tell him that.  Mostly I’m just interested in how excited he gets about the whole thing.  And no; I haven’t developed any desire to raise cactus but that doesn’t need to become a point of conversation. He loves his hobby.  I support his love.  Full stop.

In this day and age where every thought that enters anyone’s head seem to have permission to come out of their mouth or keyboard, I can’t help but wonder if we are doing ourselves any favors.  Why not build each other up instead?  Admire another’s enthusiasm, even if it’s not your passion?

Dog sports competitors are on the same page. They are fascinated by dogs and dog behavior. They enjoy training to a high level. And many of them are willing to compete and test their skills. That is worthy of admiration right there, whether or not you choose the same route as another.

Consider reserving your opinion for those times when you can actively support, encourage, and praise those around you; adding value to the overall conversation and feeling in the space.