Take Care When Speaking Up 🙊

Politically charged public tragedies like the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, can lead to poorly timed messaging when not thought through. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a moment of discussion.

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The shooting in Texas has been obviously a pretty heavy thing to deal with over the last couple of days, and while I’m not exactly perfectly equipped to deal with the challenges it creates through my editorial channels, I wanted to comment on one aspect of the shooting that I think it raises as a culture—how do you, personally, respond, given your position in the world?

This was something I debated all Tuesday evening as we thought hard about our choice to publish an issue of a newsletter that, for the most part, avoids issues of heavy politics or hot-button cultural debate. As the Tedium about page states, we tend to focus on situations that have been settled.

Ultimately, the line we landed on was this: We should publish, and the reason we should is because right now, the feed is surrounded by heaviness and negativity, and we can offer an alternative to that. Is that a perfect position to be in? No. For one thing, it can threaten the success of the content you create if you publish it at a time when it is very actively swimming upstream. And if people disagree with your opinion on whether it’s time to speak up, it’s not going to go over well.

But I think it’s better than the alternative of silence in Tedium’s own particular case. I mean, I get it. We publish not particularly heavy-duty content on our little corner of the internet, and as a result, we aren’t where people are going to go to get their breaking news. But once they need five minutes to focus on something, anything else, we can offer that.

But I think a big factor was also what we were publishing as much as why we were publishing it. If, for example, we had been writing about Jack Abramoff’s film producing career or police training simulators the other night—two real topics that Tedium has covered over the years—I likely would have pulled the piece, to be honest. DayGlo colors, fortunately, don’t fall into the messy traps that some other topics we might have written about could have landed in.


I think that with situations like deadly shootings, you have to consider your options when you speak up, and sometimes you just need to step back and listen, because the risk of doing something questionable or ill-timed is high. Amid the early moments of impact after the shooting, I took aim at longtime political blogger Matthew Yglesias for his ill-timed commentary on the shooting, which he initially seemed to double down on before taking a step back and admitting he was wrong. It took too long for him to say that, to be honest, and I don’t think I’m going to refollow him on Twitter. But I will credit him that he did.

In moments like these, passion and frustration can take over the discourse. And it can lead people to say unthoughtful or unkind things. I think in times like these, we have to look at our own compasses, ensure that they’re working, and decide, “is this what I want to say?”

Honestly, the answer is probably “no.” But taking a thoughtful approach will get you a lot closer to the answer. In a time of frustration, we need to have that debate.

Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes

Time left on clock ⏲: 3 minutes, 9 seconds

Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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