We think in words. They fill our minds, and very often we let them out. We call that speaking. But sometimes we don't speak. We bite our lip or hold our tongue or embrace any of the metaphors that colorfully describe the concept of shutting up. Sometimes it's best not to say anything. And not just because you're running for president and everything you say is moronic.
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"No, @realDonaldTrump is real! That's not a parody account."
Sometimes, society or personal self-interest says, "Hey, let this one go." Sometimes, you keep quiet because speaking, while it might make you feel better, doesn't do anything to help the situation. Here are the five times it's the hardest to keep quiet.
#5. When Your Boss Steals Your Idea
There are two forms of this phenomenon and both are equally infuriating. Picture yourself at work. Any job that has a boss. I'll use an example that makes sense to everyone. Pretend you're at your cubicle at the pickled herring commemorative dinner plate factory. (I don't have access to Cracked's demographic information, so the fact that most of you work at a pickled herring commemorative dinner plate factory just seemed like a safe bet.) Anyway, let's say one day you shuffle into work and tell your boss, "Say, we should really start laminating our pickled herring commemorative dinner plates, because it would increase their durability and make it easier to clean them!" Your boss -- let's call him Ms. Johnson -- seemingly ignores your suggestion. (Yes, your boss is a woman. Does that surprise you? Don't let your sexist notions hold you back. Women have made great strides in the fish-based commemorative plate business).
Anyway, next week you turn around and Ms. Johnson institutes a new laminating policy with no mention of you. It's hard not to say something, but if you're working for someone who's into taking your ideas without credit, it's unlikely they'll take kindly to having that pointed out.
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Gertrude Johnson, youngest CEO of FishPlateMemories.com, and nothing's holding her back.
But there's a work-based scenario that's even more infuriating. Let me modify it slightly, but still using the super-accessible pickled herring commemorative dinner plate scenario. You're at work and you notice it's April 14, and, as everyone knows, June 5-12 is the "busy season" in the pickled herring plate biz, so you suggest upping production over the next couple weeks to beat the rush. Again, Ms. Johnson won't have it. Then a day passes and your boss comes by to say, "Hey, genius, it's April 15! Don't you think we should be producing more plates to get ahead of the rush?!" And, at this point, your head will fill with every single awful word you've learned, but none will leave your mouth. It is the rare employee who would reply: "Yes, I know! I said that just yesterday! Remember, you fucdalkjd;alkdsjfa;lkdjfaldfalk a;lkdfal;dfja;skdjfa;lksdjfa;klsdfj!!!!!!!" (And that last word is super hard to pronounce, so it's, like, really rare that an employee will say it.)
Of course, the specific facts of these stories are stupid because I'm a moron, but you get the point. Bosses can take your ideas as their own for credit or even turn them into marching orders directed back at you. Either one is infuriating, and neither scenario is a good time for you to say, "Yeah, thanks, that was my idea." You'll take a momentary ulcer instead of a lot more pain down the road.
#4. Getting Presents You Hate
This entry is a lot less petty than it seems. From the time we're children, we're taught if someone gets you a present, you say thank you. The end. It doesn't matter if you like it. It doesn't matter if you already have it. It's the thought that counts.
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"Pornographic Sock Puppets ...? THANK YOU?"
It's not so hard to follow this rule and to hold your tongue. I'm talking about a much more personal scenario, where a close friend or loved one gets you something you couldn't possibly like. Like you're into death metal and your wife buys you the new Fun CD, or you're deathly allergic to roses and after 10 years of marriage your husband still comes home with a whole bouquet of them. Or like you have convulsions at the sight of hammy, over-the-top, scenery-chewing acting and someone gets you the House Of Cards box set with Kevin Spacey DVD commentary and bonus track of him singing. There are some presents that are downright infuriating because they reveal your supposed loved one doesn't know the first thing about you. Still, it's a special kind of ass that can bitch about getting any kind of present, and so we drill bite marks into our tongue.
#3. Watching Someone Fail
The longer you live, the more mistakes you make. And, hey, that's cool. Mistakes can help you learn. Just because that's the kind of sentiment your grandma might stitch to a pillow doesn't mean it's not true. Also, I mean someone's grandma, in general, not yours. As a Cracked reader, your grandma probably has no time for knitting, considering she's pillaging America as second lieutenant of her motorcycle gang.
But some lessons have to be learned by personally experiencing them. You can tell your children how to steer their bicycle or how to position their weight and lean in to a turn, but ultimately they're not going to learn how to ride a bike until they cut up their legs on the pavement a few times. Sometimes people have to fail in order to learn. It's why Cracked keeps letting Felix Clay write articles. (He's getting there!)
Anyway, if you care about someone, sometimes you have to bite your tongue and watch them make the mistake they want to make. Hell, even if you don't care about them! I see this a lot with friends proposing big artistic projects they never finish. "I'm gonna write a novel/screenplay/series of theater pieces about the life of Thomas Edison but told from the perspective of a rat that lives in Nikola Tesla's crawlspace!" or some other fanciful project. They need to crash and burn and then pick a more realistic project.
An even better example would be the impossibility of convincing someone to get help for their addictions and/or mental-health issues, but that's depressing so I wanted to do the singing mouse thing first. But what you've heard is true. It's nearly impossible to get someone to get help before they're ready to get help. Many need that rock-bottom wake-up call, and holding your tongue while you watch them get there can be excruciating.