In Praise of Shutting Up

Be kind by Plato

So here’s why I hate the internet. And people. I hate people right now too.

You’ve all read about the woman who worked at McDonald’s who sent her 9 y.o. daughter to play in the park and was arrested, her daughter sent to foster care, yes? There are lots of people everywhere freaking out.

On one hand: the mother had no good options, she’s African American and there’s a bias with the police. The police should never have been called. The girl had a phone and was minutes from her home, minutes from the McDonald’s. The person who called the police was a busy-body, etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand: An abandoned kid alone in the park could be preyed upon by all kinds of baddies. What if the kid just fell and got hurt, where’s mom? This is not a childcare solution. Neglectful mother. The person who called the police had no choice when confronted with an abandoned kid. Let the cops sort it out, etc. etc. etc.

On the third hand: why call the police into this, at all? Why not call the mom?

On the fourth hand: When the police were called, why didn’t they  just give her a warning? Why arrest her?

On the foot: Parents these days are helicopter parenting and when I grew up I went to the park…

On the other foot: Parents these days have so little support, especially poor parents, and kids are the ones who suffer…

Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The problem for me is that this is situation clearly falls into a gray area and people don’t like gray areas. The news media, the internet, they HATE the gray area. How can I judge someone I don’t know if I have to find out the whole context?

In place of facts, we make assumptions and fill in the blanks with our own preconceived notions and anecdotal information. Was the girl in question distressed? We don’t know. Did someone try to contact the mom before they went to the police? We don’t know. Did the cops ask the right questions? Had the mom had prior issues with DCFS, drugs, abuse? Is the mom a hero, working her butt off to provide for her very capable little girl? We don’t know. We just don’t freaking know. All those things matter and could change the context completely.

And so everybody jumps in to say what they would do and how everybody just doesn’t get it and the system is all screwed up and parents these days. They think up these scenarios but we just can’t freaking know. And when it’s a gray area and there is so much of the situation that is unknown, shut up and listen, and find out all the pertinent facts if you want to comment.

It’s okay to not be outraged. It’s okay to shut up.

In other news: I haven’t put out a blog in a long time, huh? Miss me? I’ve been busy, doing a lot of writing for my MFA in Creative Writing at UC Riverside. Working on a new novel. I’m 100 pages in after 26 days. Things are good.

  1. Adriane

    I agree completely. Why get the fact when it will interfere with the ability to judge? Sometimes IHP too (I hate people).

  2. Agreed. I finally realized that I can have an opinion and not have to express it publicly. What a concept. I am beginning to learn how to exercise my right to remain silent.

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