I’ve spent a lifetime biting my tongue – I realize this may come as a surprise to some of you. Well, maybe not a lifetime…I was a kid once, long ago it seems. I’ve been observing this socialization process with grandson D: it’s normal to have feelings – let’s figure out what’s going on – but no, it’s not OK to say that…it hurts her feelings, it hurts my feelings… let’s try another way.
Keeping it zipped up is what we humans do to get along: we self-censor (as opposed to being censored by others, which is a whole different story). Self-censoring is of course a mixed bag, but sometimes, I know my tongue isn’t as sore as it should be (- at least I think I maintain some awareness of that). Less tongue-biting is a verifiable consequence of getting older – older folks have less interest in censoring, & eventually, less ability to do so no matter what the situation. Well, I’m not in that latter boat yet (am I??), but it’s not hard to imagine the skiff of indiscretion sailing in over the not-too-distant horizon.
Most of us spend a lot of time chomping on that amazingly versatile human primate organ. I’ve noticed that the tongues of teenagers & NIMBY’s are more intact. Others with intact tongues are probably older (as noted) &/or have some kind of brain, drug or personality disorder – whether or not we’re able to recognize/acknowledge it at the time. Sometimes it seems that we of northern european heritage are especially adept at living with sore tongues.
I’ve had a lot of experience with zipping it up – even though it clearly goes against my nature. 20 years as director of a transportation agency in an actively anti-tongue-biting community; 30+ years as a mother of daughters ; 40+ years as a partner & wife of a kind but introverted workaholic …well, it’s a miracle I can still talk. I suspect that others however (you know who you are!) occasionally aren’t too pleased at this miracle.
Social media majorly tweaks these tongue habits. An objective of social media is to be provocative (& self-promoting, & sometimes even genuinely supportive & newsy & useful, etc.). I have mixed feelings about this aspect of our tech lives: I enjoy the validation of folks telling it like it is (especially when I agree & when it’s not being directed at a certain person, although some certain persons seem to intentionally make themselves fair game & I’m not naming names); on the other hand, I cringe at making validating comments myself about these validations. Even so, at times even I unzip online…& then I hit delete. Well, most of the time.
For me, blogging itself demonstrates the challenge of balancing voice with discretion: how to be relevant & open (as well as scientifically accurate) while also treading that fine line of not revealing too much of the everyday junk of our deeply emotional human primate nature.
So…hey – thanks for reading in spite of sore (or perhaps not-sore-enough) tongues. Mine – most definitely – & probably yours too. I’m game to keep walking this fine line as long as you’re willing to help me get back in line when I lean in too far.