Taboo Topics: Why They Matter

We think differently. We feel differently. The infinite number of experiences and people and places and circumstances that every individual has encountered, has shaped them to be exactly who they are. There is beauty in our individuality and yet, there is also danger in it. When we encounter others who do not believe in the same things we do, we become irate. We can be defensive, condescending, violent, and dismissive. I was guilty of being dismissive. If someone made an ill and/or uninformed comment about gay people, the Black Lives Matter movement, politics, etc. I would just delete them from my friend’s list. I called it “purging” — ridding my social media of people who obviously weren’t smart or capable of being educated. Pompous, I know. But I didn’t see it as that, at least not at the beginning. I thought:

“Why waste my time arguing with people about things they’re obviously wrong about? I choose who I associate myself with and I don’t have to subject myself to this!”

There were two major flaws with my assumption:

  1. I assumed that any discussion with opposing viewpoints would be an argument.
  2. I assumed that viewpoints different from mine were wrong.

 

By completely disregarding those individuals’ experiences, upbringing, stories, and opinions, I was hindering myself. How could I accuse them of being incapable of education when, I was too blind to see that moments of learning and reflection were right in front of my eyes; through understanding their differing opinions?  But maybe that’s just the conundrum of the internet. The obscurity of our cyber identity and that of others, allows us to make rash judgments. It allows us to control our environment with a precision that is unlike the real world. It allows us to troll. It allows us to say whatever the hell we want with no conceivable consequence. It may even allow us to take space in a completely separate identity, unlike what we convey in real life. Because in real life, whether through our jobs, school, or even the grocery store, we interact with individuals that we cannot control. We experience all different walks of life. And it was through that experience that I realized I could be friends or friendly with others who possessed different opinions from me because they lived different lives from me. I wanted to know about their different lives. I wanted to understand what made them who they are. So I began a social experiment, where I would ask controversial questions on my Facebook page, in an interest to see how many people would answer. My very first question was:

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As soon as I hit the “enter” button I regretted it. I was sure no one was going to answer and I’d look like a fool for even asking. But much to my surprise, the responses started pouring in quickly. I had over 30 comments of people expressing their opinions and discussing them with others. Naturally, many responses were pro-choice because I am pro-choice…remember that whole ‘purging’ thing? But eventually, one brave woman chose to express her opinion, which was different from the majority. She flagged with her comment with disclaimers explaining that she meant no harm, and that she was putting herself in a vulnerable position by speaking out. She beautifully expressed why she was pro-life and almost immediately gained respect and support from me and those who agreed and disagreed with her. We respected her opinion and her right to express it and we understood that her belief was rooted from her experiences. The dialogue across the entire post was fantastic. It was refreshing because it was open and honest discourse about a taboo topic and both opinions were being represented and people weren’t virtually killing each other! So I tried another question…

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and another…

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and another…

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little bit more…

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even…

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These were things I wanted to know. I wanted to see the answers that were different from mine. I was interested in their explanations. In a few surprises, I found myself changing my viewpoint a bit and appreciating the different perspective. And for the opinions I still didn’t agree with, I gained a new understanding of at least why that opinion was held. It was truly a humbling experience. I was thoroughly surprised and inspired. I felt this strong desire to find a space in which dialogue like the kind I was producing on my posts could continue. And then I desired to be the creator of that space. Which is why I find myself here. My hope is to find others here — to encourage them to take that small step out of their comfort zone to learn about something or someone else. You never quite know what it will awaken in you.

Nadia.

 

Photo by Milos Milosevic. Acquired through OGQ Backgrounds HD. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

2 Comments Add yours

  1. jes says:

    great read! i’m literally glued to your blog! you should come to the next black bloggers united power hour in chicago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m such a newbie, I don’t even know what that is lol. But it sounds awesome! I would love to go.

      Like

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