I am not a person anymore.
Wherever I go, whoever I talk to, whatever I say has to be in some sort of a category.
Some people call me a liberal, others call me a right-winger. Some call me a communist, some call me a conservative.
Yes, I am a label.
If I don’t agree with you or your opinion, I must follow some other ideology that you consider as beneath you.
I don’t know exactly how or when it started. Things were perfectly fine until a few years earlier. People talked to me as a person even when I had different opinions. No, things weren’t peachy before too. There were heated debates, personal attacks, and mild abuses before too, but today it feels like it’s almost impossible to have a discussion unless you belong to a particular ‘category’.
Funny story actually. Until a few years ago, I didn’t know what any of those words meant. The first time someone called me a liberal, I had to actually look it up to know what it meant. Up until then, I didn’t even know I was a liberal.
So I started identifying as a liberal (yeah, I was a naive chap).
Until I presented a differing opinion in a liberal forum. Suddenly, my identity changed. I was called a right-wing c*nt and a conservative that is holding the country back.
First of all, I didn’t know that I was so big of a deal that I was single-handedly holding the country back. Second: Why is it people like to blame those with different opinions for all that is wrong with the world?
But I still continued on a journey to find the perfect ideology that I could identify with.
I looked everywhere.
Tried Facebook. Any page I followed or any group I joined, I was abused for presenting a different opinion. Over a period of a week, my inbox was filled with thousands of abuses (some were quite creative I might add).
Went to Quora which I initially liked as it was more welcoming and open-minded but after a while, I was labeled as a ‘libtard’ and a communist for going against the dominant narrative.
Tried Reddit but was disappointed to see it’s because more of an echo chamber. The upvote/downvote system makes it easy to suppress the voices that do not agree with the majority. Only comments that confirmed the narrative were upvoted.
Didn’t go to Twitter because I like my sanity.
Even tried to have discussions with my parents and family, but proposing a differing view or even questioning theirs was insolence.
To all of them I am a label: Libtard, commie, right-winger, conservative c*nt, arrogant, offended, triggered feminist, misogynist, butthurt leftist, lazy millennial.
Some may say ‘Why bother? Delete social media and stop discussing controversial topics altogether.’
I ask them – Why?
Why should I be the one that has to censor?
Why should I be the one who has to silence himself?
Why can’t people have a civil discussion?
And it’s not about social media either. Yes, this trend is more dominant there but that doesn’t mean that my real life conversations are any better. Have you ever tried offering a different perspective on your family Whatsapp group?
Today, it’s blasphemous to even have more than one type of ideology. It has to be this side or that one. Everyone wants to paint it as black or white. Nobody wants to hear or even acknowledge the grey. To them, a human is such a simple being that he is incapable of holding more than one point of view.
Why do they do it?
Because it’s convenient.
It gives people great comfort to be in a group that confirms their beliefs. Sometimes, this goes to a point where they alter their own identity just to be a part of this group. Not because of new facts, but because of fear of being excommunicated. They change themselves because going with the dominant narrative is more important to them, even if it comes at the cost of their own identity.
I am all for having an open-minded discussion. In any given scenario, I’ll be more than happy to change my opinion if the other side presented convincing facts. I mean, that is how you grow isn’t it? But if your only argument is that I say so or personal abuses, then sorry, we can’t and shouldn’t have a discussion.
This is one of the main reason I started this website so that people can actually talk and move beyond labels.
With Ishturd, I hope to build a community that is open-minded and welcoming. One that doesn’t propagate hate or resort to ad hominem when someone doesn’t agree with them. One that challenges views frequently and understands that it is alright to change ideologies, beliefs, opinions in light of new evidence or facts. One that isn’t afraid to grow.
I don’t mean to preach but the current state of discussions (online and offline) isn’t really acceptable. There is no denying it. I hope that together we can build a platform where people can converse without hate.
Until then, I am a label, and will stay one.
Image Sources: Pxhere, Twitter