I will begin by saying: My sister told me not to write this article. She warned that a piece about being called "unfiltered" would be considered passive aggressive, giving credence to all those who inspired this post in the first place. However, in the past few weeks I have internalized that being called "unfiltered" is not always an insult. I have come to discover that in the realms of theater, television, book writing and other creative pursuits, "unfiltered" is owned by the recipients of the title (i.e. Lena Dunham from Girls, comedian Billy Eichner of Billy on the Street fame, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern...) and for many, it is celebrated rather than something to defend oneself against. Comedians and show hosts have made grand careers out of being unfiltered. Of course there are unfiltered folks that we love to hate (Sarah Palin springs to mind though that's going back and if you want to venture even further into the past, Dan Quayle). Then there are those we love, like Wendy Williams, the talk show host who says it like it is. Very often the lines are blurred, like when Kandi Buress from The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Evelyn Lozada of Basketball Wives took offense to comments Wendy made about them. So many celebrities love Wendy for "keeping it real," but when they find themselves subjects on hot topics, they bite back and say Wendy went too far.
A few months ago, one of the meddlesome mommies on the playground told another -- we'll call her "Meek Mommy" -- "I'll tell you a great story about something really awful, but you mustn't tell Shira, she's unfiltered." I think by "unfiltered" she was implying that I would share her really awful story (No, it's too awful, I will NOT give you details!"), but gossiping about someone's misfortune is not something I would ever partake in. Meddlesome Mommy was completely mistaken about that, but I will give credence to her depiction of me by telling you the story of her calling me unfiltered. Meek Mommy repeated the story back to me and I was beyond horrified and sad for the poor mom who unknowingly was the victim of loose lips. Selfishly though, I spent a moment feeling truly sorry for her before I moved on to indignation on my own behalf. I was not unfiltered! When asked to keep a secret, it is in the vault. When giving advice, I only opt for the solicited variety and use extreme tact. Unless I am deliberately being vengeful (We all have our bitchy moments), I don't say anything hurtful and if I ever offend by sheer accident, I apologize right away, clearing up any misunderstanding. I pride myself on my sensitivity to others, but then again, I write about emotions, fertility challenges, community issues and my rough childhood. So some people, who have read those articles or the status updates that point people to them, have termed me "unfiltered." I wasted precious moments of my life feeling insulted by this word. Then I went online.
What I discovered in a simple search that day was that those who were trending (Brandi Glanville, Donald Trump, Mindy Kaling, Gwyneth Paltrow...) had all been called "unfiltered" at some point or another and had seemed to eat it up. While thoughts on these celebrities are definitively divided, their success (be it with reality TV ratings, book deals, casinos or a popular website you love to hate) could be ascribed to the very attribute I had tried to shun.
We all struggle with the fear of being misinterpreted (including the fear of the comments section below -- if there's a phobia for that, I've got it.) and I've spoken to many talented people who will not write for this very reason as well as potential sources who refuse to be quoted in an article. They are worried their quotes will be taken out of context or rewritten and they are so cautious that they often bypass the opportunity to educate the public.
I don't want to miss opportunities and I don't want to keep a good gem to myself (be it a humorous Facebook status update or an incredibly personal article about my childhood that potentially could help parents and educators alike). While I pride myself on being tactful, intuitive, emotionally intelligent and sensitive (continually, these are all areas for major improvement), I may occasionally be unfiltered, which is definitely a "subjective" description. Some people like my candor, my sometimes risque choice of words or discussion topics and some people will gossip in either real or mock horror. I've learned to appreciate the mixed responses. Comedian Katt Williams once stated "Feel free to hate on me!" If I were to continue to stew, as a I did for an inordinate amount of time, about a silly adjective, I would sit home and do nothing at all. If NO ONE ever called me "unfiltered," I would not be creating.
I should thank the Meddlesome Mommy who inspired this article and no, it's NOT passive aggressive to do so, although it is very plausibly "unfiltered." This mom does not read my articles! She skips right over them for Marlo Thomas, but who wouldn't?!I skip over me for Marlo Thomas! And in that vein, let's remember boys and girls -- sorry, "fellow mommies" -- when the word "unfiltered" comes to mind in the hopes that one will keep a muzzle on it, Marlo was integral in starting the movement:
We are all "FREE TO BE, YOU AND ME."