I did that thing you can do on Facebook and find out what the site believes your political alignment to be. To the surprise of no one, Facebook thinks that I am “Very Liberal.” When I noted that (yes, on Facebook), a friend observed that I’m a pretty open book, while she is seen more as a “Moderate” (She’s not 🙂 ).
Over the years I’ve had more conversations than I can count about how I’m able to have such an honest public persona. The most common question I get asked is: “How do you get away with saying what you really think?”
A lot of people try to convince me that a person who holds a position such as mine* should be neutral about controversial things. Whatever my political leanings (for instance) I should keep them to myself. I disagree. If anything, I want to be as clear as possible about who I am and how I see the world. I want to be able to be who I am. So what bothers me most is that (other than the aforementioned passivity) some folks are more concerned that I not disrupt their preconceived ideas about the world than that I engage as a thoughtful member of the community.
I don’t know if I have a good answer to the question of saying what I really think. I’ve never given a thought to “getting away with” anything. I suppose I’ve always just been who I am in whatever space I’m in. I don’t shy away from offering my opinion, but I also try to treat social media like I used to treat living in a small town. Everybody knows everybody, and you don’t get invited over for ice cream if you’re a jerk.
So here’s my advice: Imagine that truly kind person in your life who happens to see most things differently than you do. When you speak your mind, pretend you’re speaking to them.
*I’m professionally religious, directing a regional office of the Presbyterian Church USA.