Beyond the clicks.
I am openly critical regarding a series of beliefs and social stances considered mainstream nowadays.
Religion, biological sex, gun control, gender ideology, personal beliefs, scientific hypocrisy, pseudosciences, and other similar subjects — you will find them on my main blog, Psychology Corner, and on my social media accounts.
For me, nothing is off-limits when it comes to sharing opinions, especially when informed opinions make up the vast majority of what you share with an audience.
My online articles cover a wide range of topics considered by many sensitive or — a more recent label — controversial.
What they mean by “sensitive” and “controversial” is that these subjects tend to divide an audience into two groups holding opposing views, and balanced positions are negligible or frowned upon because they are seen as weak.
Long story short, these are the topics that can get you in trouble in a variety of ways. Side with one party, the other one will likely hate you with a passion.
There are even contexts in which openly speaking about a topic — especially if your stance goes against someone’s financial or social interests — makes you a target for an entire group of people.
These two articles made The Church of Scientology block me on Twitter, while their followers put me on a list of “Suppressive Persons” — in Scientology, Suppressive Persons are those individuals that Scientologists must avoid or fight via any means at all times.
While most of the reactions are silly — someone calls you names — or downright annoying and stupid — reports and attempts to block your content, the truth is it can get scary and even dangerous at times — online threats that may end up in real-life harm.
That’s why many individuals prefer to maintain their views private on such subjects or go the anonymous way when posting online.
I understand where they come from, but I definitely do not agree with their decision to keep quiet or hide their identity.
If they don’t hate you, they can still dislike you.
Sometimes, even benign positions on certain subjects linked to so-called social norms or widely spread perspectives and beliefs can make readers think you’re a bad person.
For example, I don’t think we should be nice to each other all the time, and that that can even be socially detrimental at times. I also don’t think billionaires have an obligation to end world hunger, nor that you should share photos of your children online.
Most of the time, the immediate response is triggered by the fact that people do not stop to analyze your arguments — or even read the article, and also because it’s an automatic response on a topic that is familiar to them. They feel their stance is the right one, so they think there’s only one acceptable take to a subject.
To summarize the intro, for a long time I’ve been writing about and publicly shared views that can make people dislike me, at best, and hate me, at worst.
So, why do I — still — do it?
Refrain from giving what you might think is the obvious answer: “because you want the clicks and because you’re a jerk and want to start shit”.
That’s not it, although those are indirect results.
Let me give my own answer. Judge me after reading it.
- I am free to say it all. I am a strong believer in Free Speech as a fundamental human right. No views should be blocked from reaching an audience. It’s your right to say it, and the audience’s responsibility — not a third party’s — to assess it and come to their own conclusions and build their views. Note: That being said, a private company blocking an individual from using it is not an infringement on freedom of speech. Oppression is one thing, content moderation is another. You can say it, others don’t have to listen to it or read it.
- Uncomfortable discussions are needed for individual and social growth and wellbeing. If we create a long list of taboo and uncomfortable topics, then the issues they are linked to will forever remain unresolved. Bad things thrive in the dark. Shining a light on a problematic aspect of life will make it lose its power. Once it’s out in the open, it can be dealt with.
- Dealing with negativity is an important psychological skill. Our lives can’t be pink all the time. I see some people claiming to always block anything negative that shows up in their life and boasting about how they are able to turn all the negatives into positives. Well, that means they’re not able to deal with reality at a satisfying, mature level. Life contexts will make us feel both positive and negative emotions — they’re called negative, but I think uncomfortable or unpleasant are labels that fit these contexts better. We need to build proper coping mechanisms and integrate both nuances into our lives. Otherwise, the individual will remain vulnerable, and emotionally immature.
- Avoidance is never the way with such topics. Avoiding a conflict that can put you in real danger is one thing. Avoiding discussions because you don’t like what others may have to say is puerile and not constructive.
- Calling out the bad actors will take them out of the social stage. Make your arguments against the actions of scammers, and all dishonest, misleading, and predatory individuals. You may help limit the victim count.
- It’s a realistic view. Our world has those contexts that we see as controversial. Not talking about them and claiming not to see them would be rather irrational.
- People will trust you. For many it may be a turn-off — “Ugh, she’s always writing about negative things!” — but others may see my articles on controversial topics and those of others as signs of honesty, responsibility, and — why not? — courage.
- Promotes accountability. You’re out in the open, taking responsibility for what you say and write. People can assess your views, judge them, and call you out when they think something is wrong.
- Promotes social connection. Truly, it does. Writing about controversial topics — those that are so powerful socially that they make regular people, politicians, and corporations fear them — can help you build strong social relationships. Funny enough, at times it can be with those who hold views that are opposed to yours. You can read here how my friendship with psychic medium John Edward started — I’m a skeptic, he’s… not. I criticized his website, he liked it. The rest is history.
- It’s fun. Not gonna lie. Sometimes, it’s fun being seen as a rebel. Especially when all you actually do is read tons of books and type words on a keyboard.
So yes, it’s because of everything that I mentioned above, and probably many other reasons that just didn’t cross my mind while writing this post, that I won’t stop addressing uncomfortable topics in an open way.
What you should take into consideration when openly sharing your views online on controversial or uncomfortable topics:
- You are responsible for everything you say.
- You can change your opinion on any topic, especially when new data or perspectives show up. Don’t let others bully you into thinking that changing your mind means you’re weak or inconsistent. Unless that becomes a pattern, it is completely justified and a mark of cognitive and emotional adaptation.
- The others have the right to criticize your views.
- Some criticism won’t be nice or justified.
- You have tools at your disposal to fight any abusive behavior that is directed at you — online or in real life. Do not hesitate to use them.
- Other people are entitled to their own opinions, even if you don’t like them.
Thank you for reading.