Should Meryl Streep, Jimmy Fallon, the POTUS, or even an average person (such as yourself) take the opportunity to speak your mind when you have an audience?
"That depends" is the right answer. There are times that yes, it is appropriate, and there are times when it is not. Knowing the difference is what will allow you to either keep your job, your reputation, or your friends.
My friend Steve is particularly fond of stirring the pot in Facebook conversations. This week he managed to brew quite a storm with his post about Meryl Streep's comments at this week's Golden Globe Awards.
Steve used his Facebook feed to complain about her and other celebrities using time that belongs to not only the person but to others as well (the viewing audience), to state their opinions. Meryl Streep was his example.
Steve complained about her using her Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech to air her opinion about Donald Trump. He said that regardless of how he felt about Mr. Trump, that he most certainly was not interested in her political feelings and didn't feel she had the right to preach to us about what we should or should not tolerate.
Immediately Julia told Steve that he could have easily turned off the television if he wasn't happy.
Point to Julia.
But back to Steve; is he right? Did Jimmy Fallon have the right to make political jokes and zingers, did Barack Obama have the right to tell the world how much he loves his wife Michelle, and do you have the right to share your opinions just because you have an audience?
Jimmy Fallon is a comic. We expect him to make political jokes. He does them to gather a laugh or chuckle. That is our expectation. So yes, Jimmy can make those comments in the name of humour. If Jimmy Fallon decided to change the goal of his comments from humour to education, then no. He does not have the right to tell us what we should and should not feel, what we should or should not tolerate, or what we should or should not be doing. It is not his platform for him to vent. That isn't funny, and not what we are paying to see.
When Barack Obama delivered his farewell address this week, we expected to hear a summary of his eight years in office. His love for his wife was not only expected, it was also a big part of his success, therefore warranted.
If you are sitting and having lunch with coworkers you most certainly have the right to your opinion and the right to free speech; but should you use that "audience" to tell them your feelings on what your boss did this week, the company's policies, or why they should go to church on Sunday? Do they have the ability to "turn off" the conversation if they want to?
I believe in free speech. I believe we all have the right to our own opinions. I don't believe your coworkers or family should have to listen to your free speech; especially if it makes them uncomfortable.
- Is what you are saying positive, or may it be interpreted as a "rant"?
- Is what you are saying open to other points of view? Is it a discussion, or is there a very clear right and wrong view for you?
- Are you okay if someone disagrees with you? Are you in a position of power where your "audience" might feel threatened if they say something?
- Is this the place and time for this discussion?
Jimmy and Barack were appropriate with their statements. Meryl had the right to her opinion, but I believe her platform was inappropriate, and Donald's statement of Meryl being an overrated actress is just an opinion, and I turned Twitter off when I saw it.
I can walk away from a Facebook or Twitter discussion, I can turn the television off, and I can tell a friend that I disagree.
Should I even have to?
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