Thomas Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer winning columnist for "The New York Times" has an interesting column today on shutting the fuck up.
Well, it's not really about shutting the fuck up. It is about reporter Octavia Nasr who was fired for some unauthorized Tweeting.
But the column is really about galloping, rampant, aggressive reactionaryism. Where everything we say, everything we breathe, everything we fart has to be scrupulously scrubbed and politically correct.
Friedman writes, "To begin with, what has gotten into us? One misplaced verb now and within hours you can have a digital lynch mob chasing after you — and your bosses scrambling for cover...
What signal are we sending young people? Trim your sails, be politically correct, don’t say anything that will get you flamed by one constituency or another. And if you ever want a job in government, national journalism or as president of Harvard, play it safe and don’t take any intellectual chances that might offend someone. In the age of Google, when everything you say is forever searchable, the future belongs to those who leave no footprints."
Friedman is writing about politics and journalism, but he might just be talking about our lowly end of the communications pantheon. We mince words. We tone things down. We write without a point of view or an attitude. WE MIGHT OFFEND.
Good writing should evoke a feeling. It should instruct or soothe or inspire or upset. It shouldn't sit there like a menu.
If you don't like reading it. Don't. Or turn the page.