Columnist

Dave Molter is a freelance writer and Golden Quill and Keystone Press Awards winner. He also is a freelance musician in the Pittsburgh area.

I really miss the days when people kept their traps shut.

I miss a time when you could get in line at the supermarket without having the person behind you regale you with details of a recent family gathering where “everyone acted like idiots.”

When people left you alone on public transit to read or stare into space rather than ask your advice on how to handle their son or daughter, who is:

  • lazy as hell
  • dumb as a rock
  • bearing the child of an unknown man
  • the father of a child by a woman to whom he is not married
  • always asking for money

I miss the days when you could sit in a rocker outside a resale shop and not have an 80-something ask you “What do you think of (insert politician’s name here)?” Then, having answered that you try not to think about said politician, have the octogenarian ramble through a 15-minute diatribe that should have taken all of 10 seconds.

Because you were raised by your parents not to walk away from someone while they are talking. Because you’re too polite to say, “Shut up!”

I miss the days when people had common sense. Decorum. Civility.

It’s sad when people take to Twitter – a platform pretty much designed to let anyone anywhere tweet any asinine thing that comes to mind as long as they do so relatively briefly – to say, “I wish we could go back to when we at least pretended to be adults, and, you know, did things that were difficult and did them with consideration.”

As Mr. Peanut said when asked where he lived, “In a nutshell!”

I suppose it seems counterintuitive for a columnist to be complaining about someone expressing an opinion. But what I’m really saying here is, think about what you are about to say, tweet, post, email or write.

The subject doesn’t matter. It can be religion, politics, racial and gender equality, or the superiority of the 1965 Chevy Corvette Stingray over contemporary models.

Before you opine, consider for a moment who you will offend or wound deeply with a snide comment. Consider what unintended outcomes may follow from your statements. Because the problem, as it has been for eons, is not so much in what you say, but in how it will be interpreted.

I know you’re tired, I know you’re discouraged. I know you’re sick of a 24/7 news cycle in all media that makes it damn near impossible to avoid things you’d rather not hear or think about: who called someone a nasty name; the latest disaster; the latest shooting.

I know it’s easy to follow suit when people spout off; you want to make inflammatory statements of your own. But remember: Once you respond in kind, they have succeeded not only in rewriting the rules of the game but also in taking a dramatic leap toward winning it.

Should you remain silent? Absolutely not. State your opinions. But do so logically, calmly.

To paraphrase what a musician friend says at the end of every performance: “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t be a jerk.”

And if you can’t, just keep your trap shut.

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