Sometimes It’s Best To Just STFU

I have a life rule that I try to live by. If I don’t know enough or have enough information to offer an educated and informed opinion on a topic, I keep my mouth shut. This rule applies in my equestrian life as well as the outside world.  The world is full of people who do not live by this rule however. We meet them in coffee shops and grocery stores, we deal with them at work, some of us will have Easter dinner with them and we definitely encounter them in the barn. Some of us can blame the ignorance and bravado of youth, but a lot of us should definitely know better.  I look back on such a situation where I definitely should have stuck to my rule.

Last week, some of my teenage students were sitting around the viewing room at the barn, scanning playlists on their iPhones and playing music, when I overheard one of them mention Avril Lavigne. I’m not sure why her name came up, but I thought I would chime in that I really liked her cover of Knocking on Heaven’s Door. One of these teenagers, who is not my student, informed me that it wasn’t a cover, that Avril wrote that song. She oozed with a condescension that only teenagers and Donald Trump seem to possess. She even added “duh” at the end to really drive the nail home.

I laughed in that equally condescending way older people do when they’re discussing music with young people.

“Of course she didn’t write that song. It’s an old song. It’s a Guns & Roses song.” (Yes, yes I know classic rock fans, you can put your hands down.)

“No I’m pretty sure Avril Lavigne did that song first,” she answered.

“What?! Are you nuts? Of course she didn’t! It was Guns and Roses. I’m going to Google it and prove it to you.”

I was outraged as I began that slow climb onto my soapbox. Where did this kid get the cojones to actually argue with me? She was probably raised by parents who always tell their kid that they’re right. The no grades, no placings, my kid always has a right to an opinion type.

“Fine. Whatever. I think you’re wrong,” she said, smirking at her friends. My students at least had the good sense to stay out of it.

I typed “Who sang Knocking on Heaven’s Door” into Google and like a snowball rolling down a hill, I was unstoppable.

“Why do you teenagers think you know everything? That song was from MY generation. MY generation. You don’t think I would know? The arrogance of your generation is shocking. The universe is going to slap you down one day my friend. Slap. You. Down.”

Up came the search results. I did a hard double-take at the answer. I even checked two more sites to verify before I spoke.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m right. It was definitely Guns N’ Roses.”

She answered with another whatever and an eyeroll before turning back to her friends.

The youth of this world and every armchair quarterback out there should learn a lot from this story. The message? Sometimes you don’t know everything. Sometimes you’re not going to be right, so if you don’t know what you’re talking about, just sit the f*ck down and be quiet.

Bob Dylan



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