For some reason this has come up a lot lately. You know when it happens. Someone says something in a group and every one thinks "I was thinking it but wow - she said it OUT LOUD!". Not that this is always a problem. At times we need to tell the Emperor that he has no clothes on. But other times we just need to keep our mouths shut.
This is something that people generally learn with maturity. Kids are the worst. They'll tell your deepest darkest secrets to anyone. I will admit it now that I love working with children at the church because I know the monetary, sleeping, and eating habits of most of the parents at our church. In a way I guess that makes me a stalker but if the kids going to offer it I can't not listen - plus I'm pretty good about keeping things in the vault.
I digress - although I'd like to think that I've become wise to the nuances of social filters, alas I really am not all that good at them myself. I remember one instance when I was working with someone that I'd known for a few weeks when I discovered he was in remission from cancer. I was fascinated. He was so young and had done really well and I'd like to say that I was just curious about the miracle that God had done in his life but I found myself wanting to know if all cancer patients have similar experiences to chemo and I ended up asking a question about "body hair" loss-age and the inevitable growing back of said "body hair". Now... I'm trying to use a social filter in telling this tale (as I'm not really sure who is reading) but I want you to be clear that I asked someone about their "body hair" that grows in places I'll never (and never care to) see and I'd only known him for about three weeks. I clearly remember walking back to my cube and thinking "Did I REALLY ask that?" "OUT LOUD?????"
So for those of you who may need some assistance in either using social filters or leading others in using social filters, here are a few tips:
1) The Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system has some good guidelines for what constitutes adult content, youth content, and children's content. If anything, say to yourself "Would this make the cut in a PG-13 movie or a PG movie?" If is clearly a PG-13 conversation, keep it away from the 10 year olds. I don't care how mature they are unless their parent initiates the conversation: zip-your-lip.
2) Although sexual innuendos and off color jokes may be very funny at times, if it would offend my grandma and I've known the person less than a year then I'll try to refrain. I know that you may not have known my grandma but just think of a very introverted "church lady" and you'll get the picture. This rule can get tricky if I feel that I know someone better than I really do. Then I may tend to open up which sometimes works fine and other times really gets messy.
3) Remember in Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze says "This is your dancing space. This is my dancing space." The same holds true for public conversation and private conversation. A large group setting (unless specifically designated otherwise) is for "safe" conversation. Private conversation should be held in - PRIVATE. Not in the middle of the public setting.
There are many other unofficial rules about social filters that I could go on about but as many of you know me - I'm not so good at these. I'm still learning and trying to see where my boundaries lie. I'm doing my best and so are most of you. Just remember that not everyone is at the level you are at when it comes to these kinds of things so if you see someone "breaking the rules", give them the discreet "look" that'll tell them "this isn't the place." They'll thank you for it later.
Until Everyone Hears,
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