ROSE NOLEN: Listen more than you speak

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

People are talking. They are talking all the time.

Sometimes it’s good to listen. Especially when people are telling you something that you need to hear. But when you are young and the world seems new and exciting and everybody is your friend, there is just too much to hear.

You can’t wait to tell everybody, everything. Everybody you know is into the social media. You’ve fallen in love and you can’t wait to tell everyone. You tell all of your friends, and they tell all of their friends, and before you know it, the word starts getting back to you, except it’s not the same word you were spreading. Suddenly, it’s a different story, and you are sorry you told the first person, who told somebody else who wasn’t a friend of yours in the first place.

Now, everybody knows, except that what they know isn't what you told them in the first place. Your boyfriend is angry, and all of your girlfriends hate you, and you can’t really figure out what it’s all about. Now you are wondering why nobody ever told you what a small world it really is.

Some people tell all to Facebook. All of their friends hang out there. Some folks never figure out, that everybody, everywhere is not their friend. Some things you know about yourself are personal and very private, and they are not the kind of things you want everyone to know about.

When you have something you want to tell your best friend, you need to meet them by themselves in a private place, where there is no one, but the two of you. A note written on the Internet is not private.

It is wonderful that we have so many ways to communicate. And really you can talk to a lot of people at the same time. But one should always be careful about what one says. It is easy to be misunderstood, and when other people are quoting you, you can’t be certain that they are quoting you accurately.

Many people like to communicate by way of the social media. It’s a fun way to communicate. But it’s not a gossip column, and one can never be sure of who is listening. Lots of people are getting into all kinds of bad trouble using the social media.

Young people are certain that they are far ahead of older people in the employment of technical equipment. That may be true. But one thing is sure for us all: We can all take good advice, and it is never too late to learn. Listening pays.

Rose M. Nolen writes a weekly column for the Missourian. You can join the conversation with her by calling 882-5734 or emailing her at


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