As my blog has evolved, I’ve moved away from just recipes and outfits to more complicated and heartfelt subjects. I’ve talked about being pagan and finding out that my ex had cheated on me and my experience with birth control. Writing about these subjects can be cathartic, but it can also be very scary to share them with the big, wide internet.
So I wrote this post on why bloggers should write about controversial topics, and it was one of my best received ones to date. Of course, some people disagreed with me there too, stating that some blogs are just about fashion or beauty and that’s okay too – and it is! But I still think it’s really important that kickass, intelligent women (like I know you ladies are) take a stand about something, even when it’s hard.
It’s really easy to say “I’m pro-choice” or “I’m for gay marriage” or “I’m against breed-specific legislation” when you’re on your Facebook Page and all your friends and family agree with you. You get a dozen likes and everyone says, here here! But it’s a lot scarier to put those beliefs out into the world where a lot of people don’t.
There was a period of time where I was incapable of just shutting up when I saw something I disagreed with online. Someone would share an opinion that I disagreed with, and I would write a long, thoughtful response back. But then I would obsess and obsess over it. I’d check back every ten minutes to see if someone had written back. And it was completely spirit crushing when a group of people would gang up on me to say that I was an uneducated idiot.
I used to do this a lot on Reddit in particular. I made standing up for pit bulls and other supposedly “aggressive” dog breeds my mission, and no one would stand in my way. I had all the facts about why pit bulls were no more dangerous than any other large dog breed. But it was really emotionally exhausting to constantly argue with a group of people who fervently believed you were wrong, wrong, wrong.
I eventually quit Reddit after a particularly challenging “debate” about whether it was appropriate to flirt with people outside of your relationship. I thought holding your partner to the expectation that he never have cute interaction with the girl at the grocery checkout was crazy. But apparently all the 14 year olds on Reddit thought I was wrong, and it was a big pile up on Cat. It’s totally emotionally exhausting to stand up to the sheer weight of a crowd going, “You’re completely self-absorbed and clearly don’t respect your partner and obviously don’t love him if you are EVER ATTRACTED TO ANYONE ELSE EVER.” I swore that I wouldn’t debate people online anymore because I was too emotionally involved to take that kind of criticism.
Guess how long that resolution lasted?
I still (try and) avoid Reddit debates, since they are particularly toxic and futile. But when someone I know posts an article on Facebook about trans rights or the prison system that I don’t agree with, I say something. I try very hard to not be aggressive or accusatory. I just clearly outline my perspective – I figured that if they weren’t open to hearing some mild disagreement, they shouldn’t have posted a controversial post in the first place.
I hope that I’m able to maintain that tone here on my blog as well. I don’t want those of you who have different beliefs than me to ever feel like I’m attacking you. I understand that differences of opinion are not only a fundamental part of human society, it’s also what makes things interesting. I also understand that some of you will have thought of points and views that hadn’t occurred to me, and I’d like to hope that I’m open-minded to hearing that.
If nobody ever disagrees with you on your blog, then maybe you should try pushing some boundaries a little more. Even if you don’t change the minds of people who are already steadfast in their opinions, you may influence the opinion of someone who had never thought about breed-specific legislation or handicapped parking before.
How are you about standing up for what you believe? Have you ever gotten into a particularly frustrating argument on social media?