Thursday, May 14, 2015

What do you air in public?

The recent UKIP airing of opinions about Nigel Farage and the decision to allow the publication of private letters from Prince Charles both make me wonder about our tendency to say in public what might be better said in private and the odd interest we have in private communication. Unguarded comments in the backs of cars have lost politicians the public vote and maybe it's reduced public debate to some sanitised exchange of broadly similar views that have all been checked by spin doctors and focus groups. Now I'm not suggesting some sort of free for all in the name of freedom of speech or something, but I'm just wondering what impact publication of such things has and what value there is in so doing.

Then there are the articles written in newspapers by the likes of Patrick O'Flynn. Open letters are one thing, but why would you put that in a newspaper? Why wouldn't you sit down in a room and talk it through, sharing your concerns in a constructive way rather than making a public issue of it? Surely there are better ways of airing these things than through column inches. Same goes for Kevin Pietersen and other autobiographers who seem to want to "put their side of the story" before anything else. There's a time to let it go.

Yesterday I was in the queue in my local convenience shop and I overheard the person in front saying some amazingly horrible things about another person. Their shooping partner did nothing to suggest that it was time to turn down  the volume and take a breath. Not overhearing was not an option given the volume at which things were being said. Not shouted, but loud enough to make sure anyone nearby got a clear picture of what she thought of her step-mother! The thing is, I didn't need to know these things. That she didn't like her is okay, telling the world is, in my opinion, not.

It's a difficult balance, but stopping, engaging brain, asking yourself if this really needs to become public knowledge, might stop a few bridges going up in flames.

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