Most thoughts are garbage.
I’m not saying most people are stupid. I’m not saying most people’s ideas are stupid. I’m not even saying certain people’s thoughts are stupider than others. I am making a universal statement about thoughts in general.
Just to be clear: most thoughts are garbage.
That mental predilection for producing false, inflammatory, irrational nonsense isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a necessary part of being the creative, thoughtful, brilliant beings we are. Our brains can produce a seemingly infinite flood of thoughts, much of it brimming with potential to develop into truly remarkable ideas, but the vast majority of it unworthy for public consumption.
Eliminating the good thoughts from the worthless takes a lot of work. With a lifetime of training, we can get better at producing good thoughts, but our brains’ abilities to produce terrible thoughts never really goes away.
How often do overly self-critical thoughts creep into your thinking? How many vile, unfounded insults about other people or ourselves spring to mind? How frequently do you simply get facts wrong in your head before further review reveals that Kevin Bacon wasn’t actually in Top Gun? It happens to me all the time, but I have no way of knowing how often it happens to everyone else.
Except I have many ways of knowing, thanks to social media. The comments sections of pretty much everything overflows with manifest unscreened, unreviewed, unfiltered putrescence. Our ubiquitous smart (?) phones make it horrifically easy to publish our thoughts unabridged to all of our friends (?) and family faster than we can breathe. And Twitter? Something about the way Twitter just fosters an endless stream of consciousness makes it especially favorable soil for planting mental manure and allowing it to flourish. The more ridiculous the thought, the more likely it is to be retweeted and replied to, it seems.
I used to use Twitter a LOT, but when I revisit it now, I can’t stomach it. The proliferation of sheer nonsense and bile blossoming into lengthy discussions and troll parties cause a few kernels of unscreened brain farts to explode into hurricane-force diarrhea systems, and I don’t see too many twitterers who are immune to participating in the shitstorm.
I won’t tell anyone (other than my kids) not to use twitter or Facebook. But I will prescribe something to everyone: think longer. Self edit. Breathe. And if someone responds without thinking very well, if the thoughts are just flowing out unfiltered . . . it’s okay not to respond. Expecting someone who clearly isn’t willing to put effort into their thought process to suddenly begin thinking critically simply because you respond to them? That isn’t thoughtful.
So the next time someone posts something stupid on Facebook, the very smartest, most effective thing you can do is to disengage completely. Go think.
Stupidity on display is the heat. Get out of the kitchen.