Not Being Honest, But Rude

I sometimes visit the websites of Korean newspapers. I am often shocked by the user comments to newspaper articles. They express extremely raw feelings in crude and violent language. They exude hatred and anger. Many people seem to write whatever thoughts and feelings come to their mind when they first read the articles, no matter how extreme.

Many people seem to think that speaking their minds without any filter whatsoever is being honest and transparent. I’m not sure if that’s true. Being honest means letting others see your true self. Does saying anything that crosses your mind really reveal your true self?

We have many different and contradictory thoughts and feelings in our mind. Of them, some are representative of our true selves. People come to know the real you when you express these representative thoughts and feelings, not whatever you think or feel at the moment.

Take a stage setting as an example. It looks beautiful when viewed from the front, but it’s messy and chaotic when viewed from the back. But nobody considers such a stage setting to be ugly, because its effectiveness is judged by how it looks to the audience from the front. I think that our true selves are what people perceive as we express the thoughts and feelings that are truly representative of our selves, not every random fleeting thought and feeling that happens to cross our minds.

Many people who hurt others with their unfiltered sharp words often pride themselves for being honest. But they’re not being honest; they’re simply being rude. On the other hand, people who carefully choose their words are not being hypocritical; they’re being kind and considerate of others’ feelings. We should not confuse being rude with being honest, and being courteous with pretension.

We should refrain from expressing our raw thoughts and feelings without thinking. They might hurt others deeply. When we feel like giving a snappy retort, we should silently count to ten before we answer. When we feel like we have to give others advice that might hurt their feelings, we should sleep on it and consider it carefully.

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