When is it appropriate to make an “informed comment” without being requested to do so?

This post is in response to a re-blog that I did a few days ago, about “responsible self-promotion.” https://genderate.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/responsible-self-promotion

One of the countless things my children find annoying about me is that I so easily slip into “Lecture Mode,” as they call it.    I admit it, and add that I often want to butt-in to random conversations at times…in restaurants, at the Mall, in grocery store check-out lines, holiday dinners, on airplanes, in waiting rooms.

I know in my heart that when I over-hear someone say “I wonder where these bluejeans REALLY come from?”   or “Why is there a U. S. military base on Guantanamo?”     The asker does not really want to know the answers to those questions.    They don’t want a stranger sharing information about Cuba being part of the spoils in the Spanish American War,  or that there was a lease ending in 1999 that would have returned the land to the Cubans.    They don’t want to hear about the Cuban Missile Crisis and how my husband was in the army at the time and how scared I was that the crisis would end in a war with the Soviet Union.   They especially don’t want to hear about how I was waiting in the car at a convenience store when the news broadcast announced the start of the Cuban Revolution.

Back to the bluejean question…they don’t want to hear about the maquiladora (factory in Chiapas, Mexico where workers stand on tile floors for hours on end, manufacturing sweaters and other garments for the likes of Tommy Hilfeger, The Gap, and other high-end manufacturers who employ cheap labor at horrendous conditions.    They especially don’t care that I actually saw those people in that factory with my own eyes.—and have photos of them.

“Is that poison ivy?” They don’t want to hear about the agonies of poison ivy, how it is contacted by humans, how long it lasts, or that it isn’t contagious per se.   They don’t care that I had it so bad I almost rubbed my skin raw because of the itching …but my baby daughter didn’t get it at all.      I hear them asking other people, who shrug and say “I don’t know…but don’t toucth ME!”

My favorite is the wide-spread use of photos of the MAYA pyramid at Chichen Itza, mis-identified as AZTEC.    No matter how many times this error is committed…it is never corrected.     Ditto that the Aztec Sun Stone, or Aztec Calendar, is NOT the “Mayan Calendar.”    They don’t give two hoots or a holler that the Ancient Maya and the Aztecs were not contemporaries, lived in different locations, or that they were separate and not-even-close in culture.

So what?   It just seemed appropriate to discuss “informed comments.”

Is it ever proper to interrupt a conversation between strangers (or anyone) to correct some non-fact: “Look! There’s Bob Dole!”      NO, it’s Jeb Bush!

What are the moral implications of not correcting two women who walk by you, arguing loudly about something that supposedly happened at a school board meeting, and YOU were there and know exactly what happened, and YOU were personally involved?

Does being informed about something give the right (or obligation) to interject information without being asked?     (Not counting the implied moral responsibility to warn of an impending car crash!)

If stranger is talking to someone—not ME—and asks a direct question, should I butt-in without being asked?   In fact—does the stranger have a moral obligation to heed contributed conversation?

14 thoughts on “When is it appropriate to make an “informed comment” without being requested to do so?

      1. then they say (ignoring me) “I read in the paper that its a gas station.” I usually refrain from commenting further unless they ask questions…and they usually don’t.


  1. The only times I interject on things to random strangers is about travel things or stuff along those lines, like if someone pointed someone to the wrong platform for the train they were going to catch id correct them because I would like to hope that someone would do the same for me.
    As for other things, I believe that everyone has a right to an opinion, but people also have a right to figure things out for themselves, and if they don’t, well, maybe they still might and it’s me being the judgemental one for thinking they will never understand.


    1. good point…I agree. I don’t interject my opinions or ideas into those situations. In cases of directions I would definitely correct them if I knew they were wrong. I was trying to address the point that extraneous information is often unappreciated and not particularly welcome. I didn’t address my point very well I’m afraid…got carried away 🙂


  2. If I were the person whose conversation you overheard, I would want you to tell me the pertinent information. Be careful talking to me, though. I’d learn as much as I could about what you know, and then I’d ask where you were born and how you got to that place. We might walk away as friends.


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