What’s Your Excuse?

I know, I know. By now you’re probably really tired of these words. You’ve no doubt seen the headlines by now for the “What’s Your Excuse?” fit mom, Maria Kang, posing over her three small children.

There was an instant outcry across the country, especially from moms calling Kang everything from an inspiration to a poser and a bully.

(A bully? Really? For posting a photo of herself?)

There is real bullying in the world, and I’m not sure if posting a generic photo online deserves to send people into “victim” mode.

Kang claims the photo was meant to motivate and inspire others. Harassed moms claim it was deliberately insulting and smug.

The fact is, there is probably truth on both sides.

The article struck a nerve with me simply because one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone makes a deliberately snarky remark and then immediately tries to backpeddle and claim it wasn’t snarky…or worse, was mean to be “encouraging.” If you wanted to be encouraging, a picture of a mom posing over three kids with the caption “You can do it!” would have been better.

To Kang, I would say, “Don’t post a provocative photo and be surprised when you get provocative responses.” How would you feel if Donald Trump posted a picture of his mansion with the caption “What’s your excuse?” (And personally, I’m not sure I want a personal trainer shouting “What’s your excuse” at me before she’s even hired.)

To the outraged, indignant public, I would say….calm down.

Was the photo a little tacky? Yes. Insensitive? Maybe.

But let’s all slow down here.

The very best article I’ve read on the Maria Kang issue came from Ruben Navarette of CNN:*

“As someone who is attacked by the left and the right, I worry that Americans have forgotten how to talk to one another without treating every annoyance or disagreement like a seek-and-destroy mission…

After the government shutdown, a lot of Americans are talking about how Congress is broken. True enough. But do you know what could really stand some repair? How Americans talk to each other, especially when they disagree.

Our public dialogue has gotten personal and ugly. Maybe it’s the anonymity afforded by Twitter and other sites, where people can rip into one another in hurtful ways without revealing their identities. Or maybe it’s just more evidence of what has been, over the last few decades, a gradual coarsening of the culture. Whatever caused it, this much we know: Many Americans have forgotten their grandma’s admonition that if they can’t say anything nice about someone, they shouldn’t say anything at all.”


If there is any lesson we can take from the Maria Kang incident – the author included — let it be this one.

Some people don’t know any better. But 95% of the people reading this post do.

So think about it the next time you leap into the fray with a snarky comment or zinger on Twitter in the anonymity of cyberspace.

As Navarette writes, “I worry that bullying has become the new normal and that everyone is so eager to play the victim that they miss the irony when they start victimizing others.”

Whether complaining about the Republican-driven shutdown or the Democratic-led Obamacare or Miley Cyrus, Johnny Football or any other current issue, don’t be a hater.

No matter how right you are. Just don’t.

I once had a teacher in high school who made us memorize James chapter 3: “Taming the Tongue” – in a world before social media had exploded into every corner of our lives. It was almost prophetic. Nowadays, in 2013, these verses ought to be more than memorized – they ought to be tattooed on the back of every hand-held device, from teenagers’ iPhones to the Droids and iPads of grown adults.

There are those who have never attended church, never cracked the Bible, never been taught manners and never had a drop of parental influence.

What’s your excuse?




*For Navarette’s article, visit CNN Opinion: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/17/opinion/navarrette-maria-kang/index.html?hpt=hp_bn7