Question 135 of 365: Why don't we say shut up more often?

Cover of "3 Ninjas"
Cover of 3 Ninjas

I have been reliving my childhood through netflix on-demand. It seems as though all of the movies that I loved when I was a kid are available for me to pull up at any hour of the day and watch with my children (with the notable exception of Newsies). I have been doing this for a couple of months now, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. There are just too many cheesy children’s movies from the 80’s and early 90’s.

Today we watched 3 Ninjas. It is a classic, at least in the sense that it touched off quite the firestorm of chanting about a friend of mine who liked to be call “Rocky” and a girl in our class named “Emily”. (If you haven’t seen the movie… suffice it to say that one is said to love the other, over and over again in a way that only children’s movies can do). It is also a movie in which both children and adults liberally use the phrase, “shut up.” It is not one that we encourage with our children so we had to have a few conversation about why the children were being mean and not using good manners. I was surprised at how many times it came up, though, mostly because I almost never hear it during the course of my day.

Watching the movie made me think about why it is that I don’t use it and why I am so adverse to its use in my household.

I think it really stems from the fact that I don’t like to be silenced. It comes from my unwillingness to allow defacto authority into the settings around me. And that is what Shut Up is all about, establishing authority simply by calling on those words.

Yet, these boys were able to say it to one another (and I said it when I was their age) so easily. They said it without the hint that they would actually shut up one of their brothers. They said it because it was the thing to say. The insult du jour. They said it because other insults were off limits. But, we don’t have those PG limitations.

We can fling the kinds of specific insults that only come with age and maturity. We can attack idiologies and products, figureheads and policies. In fact, we have replaced Shut Up with blog posts and tweets that disallow the importance of entire political figures, world events or fanboydom.

I believe that the crumudgeon in any organization uses his or her equivalent of Shut Up in order to keep the status quo. The adult versions of Shut Up are much more detrimental because they shut out possibilities rather than simply causing silence or frustration. In a lot of ways, I wish that we would recognize and call people out on their use of adult Shut Up behaviors the way that I call out my kids on their use of those words.

I would love to have the same conversations with adults about appropriate behavior when they don’t like what someone else is doing. I would love to create a space for us to talk out our reservations for going forward, instead of simply creating spaces and ways to say no.

So, here is what I believe are the biggest Shut Up actions I see from adults that I would like to have serious conversations about:

  • Meeting cancelations for dubious reasons.
  • Stating that documents are forthcoming that haven’t been created yet
  • Creating contrary policies based upon specific requests, disallowing specific things that were previously allowed when someone actually wants to do that thing.
  • Waiting for all of the facts to come in without going and seeking them out in the meantime.
  • Not taking notes, or not sharing the ones you have taken.
  • Saying things like “research says” without actually providing a link to the research.
  • To name a few. So, while I am not recommending that everyone go out and watch 3 ninjas, it did provide me wit the ability to have important conversations with my kids, and a blog post.

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    0 Comments

    1. jacquelinecahill

      I challenge you to never say shut up, but to tap into your intelligence and passion and respectfully challenge those points you listed…shut up in any language is not okay.

    2. jacquelinecahill

      That is a tough call with the points you made, because you need to balance being true to yourself and what you believe is in the best interest of education (challenging the “shut up” of those points) and doing so in a way that is productive and not viewed as offensive or threatening. To be honest, this is something I am continually working on…a few options I've tried that have worked at times: to read the situation and people at hand and go from there…sometimes to confront it 1:1 rather than in front of a group of people to avoid “embarrassing” the individual…put it on the agenda of a mtg to either discuss or have a section of pieces the teammates would like to see change for the better and list those

    3. This really strikes me as trying to officiate collaboration. It seems
      counterintuitive for it to be anything other than an instinct for me
      at this point. I think it has something to do with the fact that I
      don't do anything on paper.

      Because nothing is in a physical place, I never get attached to “my
      part of the store”. There is nothing for me to protect. There is
      nothing for me to lose. I'm not saying that going paperless makes you
      a nomad, but you can find a home within any argument or any idea if
      you aren't weighed down by the binders you have to keep referencing or
      the files that require space.

      I think you have the right idea for trying to bring people in line,
      but I think that the alternative is to define a space that is neither
      theirs or yours and go from there. Maybe that is a little naive.

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