The Unfiltered Truth

There are different reasons why a person might admire another person even to the point of wanting to emulate that admired character trait or facet of personality. And though I know there must be different reasons, I can only think of one and that is the one that applies to me.

It has to do with filters and how some people seem to have few, if any. And it’s not just that they don’t have much in the way of a filter, they also have the ability to not hold grudges and not hold on to the past. You can have a huge argument with one of these types and five minutes later with them all’s forgotten and back to normal or at the very least not worth thinking about because it was five minutes ago, and you (meaning me, too) are still stewing over the first words of the argument.

Whenever I encounter one of these unfiltered types and witness them in all their unfiltered glory, I immediately think, “Wow! What must it be like to say exactly what you feel without a worry of what others might think?” and then before the last word has even been thought, I cringe just a little bit. It’s the cringe that throws me. I can understand cringing, and I can even understand cringing before thinking anything, but to have such a liberating thought and then cringe can only mean one thing.

I want to be one of those unfiltered types I so admire. I know some of you may be thinking, “But you blog, you can be one of those types.” And you would be right. But it isn’t about you being right. AND it isn’t about blogging and the potential, nay the given, that many online personalities are mirages. Anyone can blog anonymously or post anonymous comments just about anywhere online and be completely unfiltered. We see this everywhere. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about being unfiltered and able to let go of the past in person, to everyone you encounter. Some of you might think you tell it like it is with everyone, but I’d be willing to bet, though not much because I have no visible means of support and shouldn’t be gambling, that you bite your tongue on some things with your loved ones or your boss. I’d also be willing to bet, but not as much as my previous bet because I’m still waiting to see if that pays off, that many of you can’t easily let go of the past. You (meaning me, too) accumulate books, photographs, recipes, blogs, and other stuff and find it hard to get rid of anything or to stop reading blogs you subscribed to months ago when they seemed edgy, funny or super creative and now they are just more of the same. The bloom is off, the thrill is gone and still you hold on.

One of my friends has a weird sense of humor.

Of course, I’m not talking about your blog because your blog rocks! It is edgy, funny, brilliant and has the best stories/poems/photos/recipes/DYI info of any blog written to date. Yours is the first one I read when I open my email box after letting it sit and receive the detritus of the internet. Okay the previous sentence sounds a bit pretentious, but how often do I get to use the word detritus in a sentence? Not very. And I will confess that I read the blogs I subscribe to in the order in which they appear in my inbox. I’m taking baby steps towards becoming unfiltered.

What amazes me about these specific unfiltered types is they are not intentionally cruel or even hateful in what they say, but they also don’t seem to care if what they say hurts another’s feelings. And that’s the difference. We, filtered types, don’t want to hurt our friend/spouse/co-worker’s feelings so we edit our words. That’s what I tell myself. I just soften my words or even worse, bite my tongue and not say anything to spare someone’s feelings.  But is it really that? Do we really care more for someone else’s feelings than our own or is there another reason we do the filtering thing?

I think that on some level it’s not so much that we are concerned with another’s feelings as we are concerned with what we think they may think of us.  Or we might be concerned with another’s feelings and with what we think they may think of us, but it’s slightly the latter.  If I tell someone exactly what I think, he might think, “God, what a __________!” Feel free to insert your favorite “B’ word in the blank. I’ve heard them all – beast, brute, bicuspid.

And that’s what keeps the filters in place for most of us. Not bicuspids, because the filters aren’t tangible, but the fear that someone might think less of us.  The amount of filtering can vary depending on how well we know someone. Encounters with strangers tend to have a better chance of being unfiltered because you know you will probably not encounter them again while exchanges with people we care about or respect or fear tend to be more prone to filtering.

The weird thing is we spend so much time worrying about what other people might think of us that we don’t realize that other people aren’t even thinking about us. They are too busy wondering what everyone thinks of them to think of us. To varying degrees, we are all just self-absorbed creatures longing to fit in. How else do you explain all the tattooed, pierced people roaming about? They think they are making some sort of individual statement, and that was probably true of the first few people who did it, but now the newly tattooed, pierced wonderkinds  are just another less attractive (I’m assuming a facial pierce or facial tattoo, except the tattooed eyeliner some women get) face in the crowd. If you are picking a tattoo out of a book, then just how original are you? And when your reasons for adding such permanent decorations to your body include because everyone has one even if you don’t want to admit that because you are more filtered than your bodily decorations might lead others to think, then you are more sheep than border collie.

This isn’t a dog blog, so I don’t know how we got into canine topics when we were talking about filters of the intangible type. Okay, we weren’t talking. I was just writing and assuming that you were thinking what I thought you might be thinking as you read this. But you might not be thinking what I think you should be thinking, instead you might be wondering what to have for dinner or should you eat dessert. I can’t help you with that. I can’t really help with the filtering thing either because this is all just off the top of my head. And now you’re salivating over thoughts of a brownie hot fudge sundae. It was that easy to plant a thought in your brain. It would have been even easier if I had used a picture of a brownie hot fudge sundae instead of the weird one I used in this post.

So since I don’t have anything else to add, I’ll just ask for your unfiltered thoughts on my filter thoughts, but remember unfiltered doesn’t mean cruel, hateful or mean or I will use my unfiltered administrative power to apply a filter to your unfilteredness.

Oh and a quick apology. I tagged this post as humor, though I don’t find it particularly funny, but a humor tag seems to attract an interesting mix of readers so if you are one of those interesting types who stumbled here in search of humor, my apologies  for misleading you. However, one (meaning me) wonders why you would still be reading if you were looking for humor and if in fact, you stopped reading a paragraph or more back, why I am apologizing to online strangers who aren’t even reading the apology? I definitely need a filter intervention.

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41 thoughts on “The Unfiltered Truth

      • Nah, my comment was okay. This one is already better, although not quite up to the standards set by your comment about my original comment.

        • I may not have set the bar very high, but it’s because I’m short and I want the bartender to be able to see me so I can order a liquid refreshment without waiting too long to be acknowledged.

  1. Great post! I think I have different filters for different people. Sometimes these filters are just a necessary evil to avoid more BS, not just a means to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings. For instance, I would love to toss my filter out the window when it comes to dealing with the in-laws. I do call them “Mr. & Mrs. Crazy” (well… not to their faces) but that’s about the extent of my brazen unfiltered edge where they are concerned. I leave it in place not because I don’t want to hurt their feeling (yes singular – no typo. I think between the two of them they share one), but because I know that they are so far gone in their fantasy world that any truthful and constructive comments from me would just feed their desire to exaggerate every situation and give them fuel to create even more drama. Therefore, to keep the illusion of peace in the family I’ll keep my mouth shut and that blasted filter firmly secured. Good luck finding a happy medium for your filter 🙂

    • Perhaps we do have different types of filters for different people, but I still come back to wondering why some people seem not to be bothered by any filters. It is almost as if they have discovered some truth the rest of us have missed.

  2. This gave me so much to think about ! I always laugh at the “goth” kids who dont realize they look exactly alike, not to mention the “fad” seeded with the beatniks, then Sid Vicious…..

  3. I love this post. I kind of sidestep this topic in blog land by having my good and bad blog. The bad one seems to allow me more freedom, but I worry that I am going too far with that too. You are so right about people’s difficulty just being real all the time.

  4. I think I agree with Wendy about different filters for different people. I see that a lot just reading how people comment on different blogs. As far as being unfiltered (incognito?) on line as opposed to face to face, i also see some people in here that there is no way that they are different in person. Their true personalities shine through. I think that I am very similar on here as I would be if we were having a coffee somewhere. Great post by the way.

    • We may need different filters for different people. I tend to think certain bloggers are very genuine and are people I would probably get along well with in the “real” world, or it might just be that I can’t imagine being fooled by a great impersonation.

  5. Recently on her Facebook site, Anne Lamott wrote about writing the truth, even if if may hurt someone’s feelings. She said, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

  6. This was a thought provoking post. I think I’m a pretty authentic person, what you see is what you get no matter who’s involved or what the situation is. But here’s the thing, I’m always trying to be nice and warm and wonderful- so at what point does that actually stop being the filter and become the real you? Maybe the person we WANT to be, whether we achieve it or not, is who we really are at our core. Maybe we are our potential?

    It may seem very liberating and “healthy” but I really don’t think there’s anything virtuous about a person who speaks their mind in the name of honesty and hurts people in the process. I also don’t think losing yourself by accommodating other people’s emotional needs is healthy or attractive. Somewhere between the two is the sweet spot.

    • I’m going to agree (partially) with John in that I like the first part of your comment. However, I’m not referring to people who are intentionally provocative and mean in the name of being honest, but rather those who are blunt and to the point in their interactions with no intention other than being honest. That sweet spot may be different for each of us. I rather suspect I’ll always have a least one filter in place.

      • I know that’s not what you were referring to and actually neither was I. You risk hurting people, intentional or not, if you don’t filter or censor yourself just a wee bit. I’m with you, I’ll always have my filters, too.

  7. As always, my unfiltered reaction was delight at following your meandering path.

    In answer to your question, “unfiltered doesn’t mean cruel, hateful or mean” is the key for me. I don’t think I have to call someone a potatohead to explain why I believe their actions are potatoheadinous. But I think in some cases not saying anything does a disservice…

  8. “The weird thing is we spend so much time worrying about what other people might think of us that we don’t realize that other people aren’t even thinking about us.” -sandylikeabeach

    Have you seen “the mustache”

  9. Great Post, Sandy! And I too loved Nancy’s quote above.

    I do think that in this day and age we are producing more and more of the unfiltered variety. It’s like people have forgotten how to be civilized, gracious or polite. Those assholes.

  10. Hi Sandy…from your “weird” friend…I knew when you took the picture that it would end up here…

    • The one thing they never explain to young people when they get a tattoo is that tattoos don’t age well, though I’m sure your tattoos looked fabulous when you were younger 🙂

  11. When I was a young woman I had very few filters (just the way I talked to my parents basically) & because I was honest & blunt (not intentionally mean or cruel), people didn’t always like what I had to say. Spinach in your teeth? I’ll be the one to tell you! Bad breath? I’ll be the one offering you gum & urging you to take it when you initially refuse! So I needed to grow some filters as I got older if I wanted to hold onto the very few friends I had (we moved a lot).
    I think on my blog, I’m the best me – sarcastic, blunt, open, honest, comical. In real life, I’m too shy to always be able to be all these things in real life. I wish I could be the same as I am on my blog.
    But then again, I do have a bit of a filter on my blog too, because there is so much talk about how once you put the information out there, you can never get it back.

  12. I definitely have filters, even online. I think I’m more concerned about how others, even strangers, will perceive me now than I’ve been at any other time in my life. I thought I would gain more self-confidence as I grew older, feel more self-empowered and sure of myself. Well, I was for a few years… not so much these days.

    I always ask myself why I care so much about what others think. Then I realize the answer. Because I’ve been deeply hurt by a few so-called friends these past few years and now I’m feeling like the whole world is just waiting for me to say something “wrong” so a full-out attack on me can begin. Silly, right?

    By the way, I wasn’t thinking of canines, brownie hot fudge sundaes, or much else after the part about the tattoos. I just got a tattoo of a peacock (not one taken from a book) two years ago and now I’m wondering if people think I’m a sheep. Sigh…

    • It is not silly at all. It is tough to lose the filters. It seemed to be much easier when I was younger, too, though I find now that the less I try to “fit in” with others’ views of normal, the easier it is to just be me.

      • Yes, but I’m an the autistic spectrum so I constantly have to have filters in place. Sometimes just being in public can be exhausting for me. With close friends who understand my quirkiness (and the self-soothing rocking I do under stress), I can relax and not worry about those things. However, in general, I have to constantly self-monitor my words and behavior. When I haven’t, there have been many times when I’ve regretted it immensely.

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