Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.
If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.
Today’s inspiring word comes from a powerful word from an amazing poet I follow on Instagram named Obbie West:
I give these NWW’s a lot of thought, but I ain’t have it in me this week. I couldn’t discern what to write, and I decided I was not going to force it. I am just going to post an inspirational quote and remind everyone not to complain today. But then, I heard a poem with these words.
A common saying I’ve used is, “only speak when it improves on the silence.” I might have even put it in a poem. It means to speak when you have something of value to add to the conversation. I’ve used this saying as my personal barometer on whether I should say something or not for years, so when I heard West say, “speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent,” it instantly resonated with me, and brought me back to the first quote. We can also say, “speaking just for the sake of speaking is the same as being silent.”
This quote also brought me back to writing. Writing is speaking, too, and I am not just talking about writing books or blog posts. Posting something to Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter is also speaking. This is where I think we take much for granted. When you post something on the internet, you talk just like you uttered the words out loud. Here is where we come back to the topic at hand: whining, criticizing, and complaining.
The ease of posting and instant gratification can make us think that what we have to say is important even when not. Everyone has an amen corner, and sometimes they be doing too much, and you have to be careful not to let the hype go to your head.
Confused about The Amen Corner? Come with me to Mt. Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church of Zion, of Mt. Calvary.
In the black Church, especially Baptists, there are always “mothers” huddled together on one side of the room. They are usually older women, mothers, and grandmothers, wearing white with larger-than-life hats in the front pew. They are the ones with the candy and gum, the shawl to throw over your shoulder, or the blanket to drape over your knees if your dress is too short. Chances are they grew up in said Church, know everyone’s business, were the secret originator of church gossip, and serve as the church elders. In short, they are not to be played with. Their facial expressions will kill you, resurrect you, and kill you again.
You can expect them to rock back and forth during the sermon, shake their heads, and wave fans in their faces as they grunt their agreements with the pastor. Every few minutes, you can hear them shout, “Amen!” This starts a trail of amens from the rest of the congregation.
But, after a while, it starts to get annoying because black baptists churches are an all-day affair. After the sweat has crawled its way down the pastor’s neck and he has finished his run down the aisle and lost his breath, he finally declares, “Hold on for a little bit longer. We almost there.” The sigh of relief in your heart brings a smile to your face. It’s finally over.
But not really.
At this moment, the amen corner says, “Take ya, time, pastor!” This is followed by a waving of the handkerchief or hand in the direction of the pulpit. Thanks to these mothers, we will be here for another two hours.
You see, the amen corner means well, and their support is appreciated, but they do too much.
Many people will cosign what you say even if it doesn’t make sense, primarily online. Because of this instant feedback, we complain a whole lot on this here innanet, and, to be clear, I am not saying complaints don’t have their place, but just because it’s on our mind doesn’t mean we should say it.
Social media is not your diary, journal, or therapist, and these people following you on these free apps are not your counselors. Most of them aren’t even your friends.
I find it sad I know people more by looking at their most recent Facebook post than I do in person because people seem to confide in social media in ways they don’t do offline. We don’t have time to get into that, but people just be talking to hear themselves talk, or as we say in the black community, “talking out the side of their neck.”
All to be accepted, verified, or gain the approval of the amen corner.
“Speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent.”Obbie West
People often say I have this joyous energy, but I am not always joyful or motivational. I show up excited because I genuinely enjoy what I do. It wakes me up in the morning and gets my blood pumping. I complain and criticize like the rest of us humans. I try not to let it spill out into the public without a purpose.
What I practice is typing things into the notepad of my phone. When sporadic thoughts come, I type them in that notepad to get it down. It may be beneficial later on, or I may delete it. I know myself enough to know I should not post everything that’s on my mind.
I also journal when I feel sad, depressed, angry, or just in deep thought, meditative space. I write a lot of poems this way, by hand in my journal. These things help me to cut down on complaining publicly in ways that aren’t always healthy. When I do complain online, it’s to serve a purpose or bring attention to a situation.
I understand the power of words and choose to use them carefully. I am not a small talk kind of person. I don’t even like to talk on the phone. I speak much more passionately when the conversation serves a purpose. Otherwise, I find it best to keep silent.
Speaking / Writing is a responsibility. Let’s use it wisely.