I have noticed that I have been yelling at certain people in my life a little more often lately. I’m already a bit of a yeller sometimes, so this is perhaps nothing new for me. But I’ve also seen strangers yelling at each other in the middle of the street. I’ve seen people have arguments with their friends on FB over the minute details of historical events and how they relate to the present context, the BLM movement and systemic racism. And to be honest with you, I’m not convinced that all this arguing and yelling at each other is such a bad thing for Canadians to be embracing.
I think for the most part, arguing is healthy and it gets a bad wrap especially here in Canada, the land of the “polite”. I think the fact that we are talking about history, context and how to resolve certain extremely important issues, is perhaps the best thing that’s happened in a long time. I don’t mean that it’s good that a lot of people have died. I don’t mean that there isn’t a fuck-tone of bad shit going on in the world right now. I just think the fact that we are openly arguing about it is a good thing.
What I mean is, we’re talking about it! And not just listening to other people talk about it on late night television shows, in the comfort of our own homes, alone. And then we crack another beer and forget to talk about it at the water cooler at work the next day. I mean like, actually yelling at each other in the street about it! Maybe it’s just me, but do you guys see that maybe this is progress for us?!? Cause I sure do.
I think it’s been a long time since we have been this comfortable with being uncomfortable here in Canada. Most of the time we are sitting in our own individual little worlds, trying not to piss anyone off, because we want everyone to like us and think we are good and nice. But it’s all kinda bull-shit. We’re passive aggressive, we don’t tell people what we really think. But we make sure that they fucking know it anyway, with our body language and tone of voice. We tell them what we think they want to hear, and we are avoiding looking at the real issues, which is a bunch of BS, and so nothing gets done.
Before you get upset I’m not advocating for hate speech! I am not advocating for refusing to properly gender someone who has asked you to be mindful of their gender identity in your language. I’m not saying that people should just be able to say whatever the fuck they want without consequences! There are always consequences, and there should be consequences! Hate speech is not OK! EVER! Don’t be an asshole!
However, sometimes we just didn’t know that what we were saying was wrong or could cause harm. And as long as we are a decent human being about it, and humble, and able to take criticism, and hear people out, and apologize when they tell us we just said an asshole thing, I believe most people are fine with that. Most people can forgive. But how would we even know that certain people are saying the wrong things unknowingly if they didn’t say it out loud for us to correct them?
I think we are in danger of becoming far too divided as people. Divided to the point where we cannot even have conversations with one another about the things that really matter. And this goes somewhere really bad!
I feel like Covid-19, the death of George Floyd and the BLM movement, and all the other shit that’s going down right now, have given us all something important enough to get off our asses and fight about (I’m only advocating for the non-violent kind of fighting by the way).
We might be divided at times, on our understanding of a certain issue, or how to resolve it, or what the right approach is to atone for certain wrongs. But we at least agree that there is a problem worth fighting about! And that’s pretty cool! Just like the #MeToo movement, we are seeing an amazing dialogue happen over social media. People are sharing well researched articles about history, or bull-shit memes that result in some people looking up the real story and calling people out on it, so the real story gets explored from all possible angles and we get the bigger picture.
How fucking cool is that?!? None of that shit would have happened without the amazing people who are out there protesting and making us talk about it! That’s the impact they are having. They forced this dialogue. Let’s keep having it!
Don’t call people names! Don’t be mean or threading, that’s not what I’m talking about! But let’s yell at each other people! Let’s have a dialogue! Let’s debate the issues! Let’s have passionate conversations! And let’s keep saying what we are afraid of, so that we can either deal with those valid concerns, or have a discovery about whether or not that particular thing is even concerning us anymore by the end of the discussion.
Now I know some people are a bit sensitive to being yelled at. They might get triggered by raised voices and angry body language directed at them. They may have dealt with something in their past that has them feel like verbal violence is likely to lead to physical violence. They might be dealing with being on the autistic spectrum, and for many people on the spectrum, the volume with which someone speaks can be something that they are far more sensitive to than your average neurotypical person.
So it’s important to keep these things in mind. There are consequences to yelling at people. There are things to be responsible for. It’s important to make sure that people know that they are safe. I think we want to try to make sure that we are not doing any lasting harm to our relationship with the people we love. And I think we gotta apologize when we have unintentionally hurt someone in a moment of anger or frustration in a discussion. But I do think we need to keep having these difficult conversations with each other, and being with that uncomfortable feeling of not agreeing with someone about something.
A friend of mine reached out to me recently to tell me that she just read through the edited version of my post about BLM that I republished last week. She said that my having edited the piece really made a difference in her understanding of the issues. She was reading it from a white cis-female perspective and she said that the way I “gave myself shit” was so educational to people like herself, who are living in a bubble, and aren’t even taking that first, well meaning, but misguided step that I took with my first post. There are a lot of white people who just don’t know what to do or say for fear of saying the wrong thing and getting called out for it. These are people who could be extremely valuable ally’s to the cause, but they stay silent for fear of saying the wrong thing and getting yelled at.
I say fuck-it, say the wrong thing, and be open to the criticism when it comes. Because it will come! And then do the work, research anything you are not familiar with, and alter your language and perspective. I have learned a great deal in my life by saying the wrong shit, out loud, and being called on it. That transformation would not have happened if I hadn’t opened my fool mouth and said that shit in the first place. And I would never have learned anything from it, if those people who took issue with it hadn’t yelled at me and told me I was being an asshole.
Arguing is valuable. As long as it remains verbal and non-violent and isn’t intentionally personally hateful shit, I don’t see there is any lasting harm in it. I think perhaps some people will loose some friends over it. Some people are not willing to hear, see or admit fault in themselves. Some people will be too sensitive and see their relationships with those they disagree with as not worth it, and maybe sometimes they aren’t. But how will we really know who our true friends are if we can’t yell at each other when we are pissed off and then still love each other in the end?
This may be an unpopular opinion, especially here in Canada, but what I’m saying is, I think what this world needs is more yelling at each other, and then more hugging it out afterward.