Savoir Vivre 2015

Or what can you say to people these days.

This post is a result of personal experiences but also of behaviours that I’ve seen online towards other people. Most of us try not to insult someone when we speak – at least not unless they have given us a good reason. It is interesting however to see what people think is insulting and what not (even if it is exactly the same thing!)

Scenario nr 1
It’s ok to say:
-I don’t want to have kids
-Yes but you will probably regret it later

It’s not ok to say:
-I will have kids
-Yes but you might regret it later.

Why? Why is the second reply a big taboo, an unimaginable thing to say and a great insult? They might regret having kids and guess what? It is irrevocable! They can’t kill them (ok, they can but I hope that’s not an option for them) or give them back!

While it is not ok to “judge” wanna be parents, to ask them why they want kids, to remind them of the huge responsibility they will have and the changes that will take place in their life, it is apparently ok to totally trash people who say they don’t want kids. From the shocked expression followed by “really?” to “you are being selfish” (what?) and “you WILL regret it and it will be too late to do anything about it”, somehow society thinks that people who don’t want kids should not find these things insulting and (most importantly) should never question back the intentions of the wanna be parents!

I generally don’t mind being “insulted”, I don’t mind people questioning my choices because first of all I usually don’t care about most people’s opinion and secondly it’s good if someone has actually nice arguments and you can be “forced” to re-evaluate your ideas and support them or even change them. But I can’t understand why there is this huge double standard here, why wanting to be a parent puts you on a pedestal where other opinions cannot touch you. This is actually an extremely important issue that society refuses to talk about. I see people deciding to become parents in pretty much the same way they decide to be the owners of a new shiny t-shirt and I have heard the phrase “I didn’t expect my life would change so much” one too many times. We are talking about raising a small human person, totally depended on the parents, that needs a lot of attention, care and responsible behaviour. If you feel sorry because after having a kid you can’t get wasted every night then maaaybe you were not prepared and it is my right to say so.

Yes, parents need to have thought this through, to have valid reasons, to be prepared and to provide their kids with the best chances they can! These kids are our tomorrow’s society. And yet only the “not wanting to have kids” decisions are questioned. Go figure…

Scenario nr 2
It’s ok to say:
Photo of homosexual couple kissing
-I don’t mind of course but I find it aesthetically unpleasant.

It’s not ok to say:
Photo of heterosexual couple kissing
-I don’t mind of course but I find it aesthetically unpleasant.

This is one of the biggest bigotries I’ve seen recently. It happened several times on facebook but I have in mind a specific incident that got me involved in long arguments. A greek author posted a photo of him and his boyfriend kissing and the photo was reported and removed (it war restored later). That created a wave of people reposting the photo as a protest against the reports (some of the reposts have also been reported).

The problem is not that someone finds a picture ugly. That happens to everyone all the time but usually we shut up about it because no one cares! The problem is when some people think they have the right to ask for the picture to be removed. And I would say that these are a few, retarded, small minded, sad and beyond “saving” people so just ignore them. But then, on conversations about that incident, there were “normal” people saying “I wouldn’t report it but he shouldn’t have posted it/he should expect some people wouldn’t like it” or the “aesthetically unpleasant” argument mentioned before. People think they are being “cool”, “tolerant” and absolutely “reasonable” when they say something gigantically stupid, sexist and insulting, as long as they add “I don’t mind of course” in the beginning:

“I don’t mind that you are gay (=see how nice I am?) but don’t rub it in my face (=oh sorry, my mistake, I am a jerk after all)”.

In this case the pretentiousness is what gets on my nerves. Don’t try to play progressive and finding a “but” to justify your conservatism. No one gives a shit about your aesthetics, people will not (and should not) ask you before they decide on how to dress, who to kiss, what pictures to post on facebook. If you don’t like something first of all DON’T LOOK AT IT and secondly live with it! Yes, there will be things around us that we don’t like and it’s ok, I know this comes as a huge surprise but it’s also something that you should have figured out yourself if you’re over 15 so you don’t get any more excuses. You are just an asshole.

For some reason (that I really can’t understand), people think it’s ok to say to homosexuals all the things they wouldn’t dare say to a heterosexual person. Somehow it’s like they don’t have feelings, like they should expect people’s reactions and accept them stoically (if not gratefully!). This shows a lot about society’s perception on some issues and it is the link between the 3 scenarios presented here. More about it later.

Scenario nr 3
It’s ok to say:
-I decided to have a non-monogamous relationship with X
-What? Non-monogamous? I would never do that!

It’s not ok to say:
-I decided to have a relationship with X.
-What? Monogamous? I would never do that!

Oh relationships, the thorn of conversations. And another taboo issue. It’s funny that people talk about relationships almost more than about anything else but still there are so many things they don’t say about them.

Of course when talking with friends, opinions will come up and that’s fine but still some things that would be considered judgmental and insulting to say for the “standard behaviour”, are totally fine to say for the “new behaviour”. And sure, if you hear a new concept you might want to learn more details, you might ask questions in order to understand it better. But usually people’s questions are defensive and hide a big dosage of judgment.

You can judge a person’s decision to be polyamorous, you can thoroughly question them on the “why’s” and “how’s”, you can even say things like “you haven’t found the right person yet, then you’ll change your mind” or “you haven’t fallen in love yet” (again, what?) or “this can never work” (ah ok, thanks for the insight) but on the other hand you are not so much allowed to “judge” monogamous people’s choices.

You cannot judge jealousy for example and push them to define where it comes from. The “I’m just jealous” answer seems to be a conversation stop, a statement that when someone makes expects you to totally understand and accept. You cannot question someone’s choice to have six consecutive relationships, always dumping one partner when they find the next one but having 2 partners at the same time, with both of them knowing and agreeing to it and probably having more partners on their own, is unthinkable. Again for reasons beyond my understanding, it is ok for people to say things they would never accept other people saying about their relationship. Double standard?

Epilogue
I see a common pattern among these 3 examples (and there are many more situations where this pattern emerges).

There are some behaviours that are considered “normal” in our society. It’s what everybody does and no one questions. People who follow these behaviours feel they are entitled to be condescending and judgmental towards anyone who doesn’t. They don’t even see it like that; if you ask them they’ll say they “just give advice” or “express an opinion”. But in a reverse situation they would not accept that “advice” or “opinion” so let’s be honest, it’s just a defensive reaction to a new idea that “threatens” their world (even if it has nothing to do with them). Whether that is the choice not to have kids, a different sexual orientation or a different relationship structure (notice that these 3 are not totally unrelated to each other), somehow people take it personally, like if you deciding to do something different is a problem or threat for them. I have sometimes the impression that instead of trying to understand your choice and evaluating if and why it is good for you, they are trying to prove that their choice is better or even the only choice there is.

This is a “trap” we all fall into. We might be different in one behaviour and face society’s judgment for it, but following another standard behaviour and be judgmental towards others when they don’t. For me it is very interesting to realise that, to see when I do it and confront others when they do it.

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