Monday, January 10, 2011


On December 20, 2010, I posted “Curmudgeon or just a Crumb?” on this very blog. It is probably worth reading that before this one.

It was not an overwhelmingly popular posting.  But it did resonate with several friends.  I have come to realize, without the benefit of any statistical polling mind you, that there is a large number of people that do not want to be told what to do.  They are tired of getting unsolicited advice from others.  I came to realize that it is not just me.  A fair number of people feel this way and silently endure.  

I believe that Richard Nixon was absolutely correct;  there is indeed a silent minority.  This silent majority is pestered and verbally prodded by a very vocal minority.  They are told that they ought to quit smoking, lose weight, be more assertive, and that they ought to do this or don’t do that... blah blah blah.  The silent majority is overly preached to and preached upon.  The preacher could be a spouse, another family member, a self-appointed leader of a social group or clique i.e. a friend, a boss, a co-worker, and, yes, even a bona fide preacher.

I am not talking about legitimate warnings like “the roads are a sheet of ice” or being pulled out of the way of a falling safe or piano.  I am referring to the busy body rants and raves of people that have the need to hear their own voice telling others what to do.  The silent majority, for the most part, endures quietly and passively, nodding, and saying just enough to get through the advice as quickly as possible.  They are preached and dictated to because they are passive and meek.  Sometimes, however,  it builds up and the lamb turns into a lion and lashes basically telling the blowhard to stop.  There are many ways to say this but at the very core is a universal command that resonates oh so well in these cases:  Shut The F*ck Up (STFU).

STFU... I like it.  Why not make it a movement.  It is kind of my own TEA Party kind of thing but not really political.  Well, that is not quite true, if some buttinski is berating your vote or view, you just say STFU!

  • “My those pants are really tight on you! You should..”  Stop them right there with a STFU!
  • “You need to be more of a team player” - STFU!
  • “Why don’t you consider...” I do not want to hear it, STFU!
  • You are  barbecuing and every male family member and friend is giving you advice on how and when to turn the meat, how high the flame should or shouldn’t be:   STFU!
  • “Haven’t seen you in church for awhile buddy.”  “That is because I haven’t been here for awhile”- STFU!”
People will leave you alone.  They will change their approach and tone when they talk to you.  No one wants to be told to STFU just as much as you don’t want to experience the largess of their lame unasked for and unwanted advice.

STFU!  Say it.  It feels good.  You can say it sharply, loudly, and with a twinge of anger.  You can also drag it out.  No matter what it should be a little louder and a little angrier than your normal tone.  It is akin to the Howard Beale rant, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore,” in the the 1976 movie Network.  You will feel good letting people know where YOUR limits are for them telling you what to do.  I have seen it done several times before in my life but never fully realized the pure liberating power of it.  Relationships change when this method is used properly.   There is an art to knowing just the right time to say it in just the right tone.  I had a boss once that was simply overbearing and loved lording his position over me.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, I allowed him to do that... STFU!)  But, one day it reached a limit and I lashed out with something akin to “Stop Being such an a-hole!”  Our relationship changed after that.  He was much nicer moving forward.

It should be noted that the STFU! flare up is just that:  a flare-up.  It is about releasing negative energy like a primal scream and then returning your normal temperament.  It is a flare-up or eruption that releases pent-up energy and anger that results from incessantly being lectured and dictated to.

OK, maybe the F word isn’t for you.  That is completely understandable, I would not presume to tell you how and what to say.  That would makes me as bad as that vocal minority.   In this case, you might just stick to:

  • Shut Your Pie Hole (SYPH):  I like the venereal tone of this acronym.
  • Stop Telling Me What to Do (STMWTD):  The acronym is too long in this case.
Of course, you can just go with the basic Shut Up.  Keep saying over and over again, faster and louder each time until the offender gets it through his or her thick skull that you are about to come unglued.  There has to be dramatic effect to truly make STFU! work.  The drama can be real or feigned, it really doesn’t matter.  If feigned, you just need to know how good of an actor you are and respect those limits.  If you are perceived as over acting, the lashing out will have much less impact.

What is it that makes people want to tell others what to do?  Is it genetic?  Is it conditional?  Were they not loved growing up?  Or on the contrary, were they told incessantly how very smart and oh so special they were?  Often times the perpetrators have no clue as to just how annoying they have become.  They are shocked when confronted with an angry STFU backlash.   How can they be so oblivious?

Actually, how could I be so oblivious?  Oblivious to what you ask?  Until I wrote that Curmudgeon post, I did not have a clue as how people were victimized by the Vocal Minority.  Silly me to think that all the nice people were naive.  I assumed that none of this bothered them.  I believed it bothered me because I was mentally defective in some way.  Others in the Silent Majority were just nice and meek in the inherit the world beatitudic fashion.  It was an eye opener to hear others feeling the same way I was.  It is amazing that you can be alive in this world and interacting with them on a day to day basis and still know so little about humans and human natures.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I should have studied psychology back in college... STFU!

So, there may be a real basis for the STFU Movement.  Heck, it could be a media, marketing, and promotional bonanza.  I can see:

  • STFU! - The book
    It would be one of those delightful little who ate my cheesy kind of books in parable form.
    Maybe the Oprah Book Club could pick it up.
  • STFU Seminars
    Did you see the Jim Carey movie - The Yes Man?  This is what I am talking about.
    Standing in front of hundreds of people having them yell STFU! and me saying, in my best drill sergeant voice, “I can’t hear you...”
    Complete with videos, blogs, and case studies.
  • @STFU
    The twitter feed in case you didn’t know.
  • Facebook
    There is no need to say anything more.  Facebook has become the be all and end all of internet social media.
  • The STFU! clothing line
    Think of the Life is Good product line.  As positive and uplifting as that brand is, STFU! I would the STFU! line of shirts, hoodies, caps, and jackets to be just as angry and liberating as Life is Good line is uplifting and positive.
Yet, when I think about it, there is something oxymoronic about this.  I am actually telling the meek, the mild, the Silent Majority what they should be doing?  I would be actually dictating to them how to stop others from... well... dictating to them.  It just doesn’t seem right.  There is a cosmic imbalance in this.  The STFU! movement needs to be benign and yet powerful, inert and yet viral.   Maybe just tasteful STFU! lapel pins is what we need.

Since I started this silly bit of fun, I have become more aware of just what I am saying to others from co-workers, colleagues, and friends to family.   I feel like I can write almost exactly what I want to say.  Yet, I get lazy in emails and verbally.  Why is it easier to do in writing?  Simply, because I have written 500 words a day since June 25, 2002.   Maybe it is not lazy as much as it is lack of practicing to do better.

There are many ways to say things and give people advice.  Simply being polite, not challenging the other person, and practicing the Golden Rule allows one to be able to communicate suggestions and advice in subtle helpful ways thus minimizing the probability of getting a STFU.  As stated above, lecturing others on how not to be lectured to seems wrong in concept.  Lashing out with a STFU! and the following Golden Rule seem like opposites.  Perhaps, they are opposities but in yinny and yangy kind of way.   

What motivated me to improve my writing?  Sure the daily writing honed the skills but before this daily writing regimen, I hated writing.  I wanted to write and express myself.  It was a gut wrenching experience simply because I wanted to be as precise as possible.  Simply having the words in black and white where others could read and interpret and re-read it again made me want to take great care in what I said and how I said it.  Conversations are more spontaneous.  The words are uttered and then evaporate into the air... or so was my belief.  As for e-mails, I treated them as written conversations and in treating them as such, I am cavalier in this communication channel as well.

Can I hone my verbal and email communications?  Sure I can, if i put my mind to it and pay attention to both.  The emails should be able to improve as they are written.  I have to just keep reminding myself to have the same mindset when I dash off an e-mail.  As for speaking, I am doing that all day long, I can practice in real time, all the time

Sure saying STFU! is good get others to behave with more civility.  But, maybe this idea of STFU! can be a movement not to insult people but more a reminder that if you are not thinking about what you say and how you say it... STFU!  This is how I am going to proceed.  I will try to lead by example.

How about you?  Would love to hear your comments on this.

1 comment:

  1. We use a similar "response" in our home without the cursing (still have kids at home, doncha know). Its, "Shut The Front Door!". It usually gets the recipients attention- and a laugh.
    Mr Gavoor- I read you often and respect your insights and outlook. I find you to be refreshingly honest and encouraging.

    I look forward to your next posting. Poetry maybe?