Hello and welcome to the inner debate I’ve been having in my head lately, thanks to the ever-present influence of unconventional media, my self-professed liberal outlook on issues and people getting pissed at people, who overplay things.
I consider myself liberal, but the thought that has been eating on me is: I am liberal, but am I overly liberal to the point of sounding chronically offended?
This is my short story. Since the early age of 2, I’ve been an avid consumer of Western media. What started with Cartoon Network and MTV, progressed into talk shows, series, movies, YouTube, and hanging out with profoundly ‘americanized’ youth. With time, I’ve started noticing more and more opinions I don’t share with my classmates in school. It became even more apparent in high school.
I’ve been asked before whether I’ve become ‘so open-minded and liberal’ after studying in the Netherlands, but the truth is, I feel like I’ve been this way my whole life. Coming from a country that even in 2016 needs work when it comes to liberal thinking, the western propaganda of liberty and equality has been nothing but a sweet escape for my somewhat repressed mentality.
Fast forward to 2016 and I find myself immersed in discussions that would have never even fazed me, if it weren’t for the Internet: racism, feminism, LGBT issues, the pro-choice or pro-life debate, legalization of recreational drugs and prostitution, cyber-bullying, slut-shaming, body-shaming, etc.etc.etc. The Internet and social media, especially, did not just shed light on these issues, but taught me compassion towards those, who deal with any sort of injustice on a regular basis. I’m no stranger to bullying, so a lot of my personal growth and healing was tied with such buzzers as ‘good vibes’ and the ‘you do you’ mantra.
I was watching these discussions unfold before me, but was not taking part. Until a certain point. Yet again, the Internet spoke to my impressionable mind and managed to extract a still-small-at-that-time strive for social justice. My inner justice-warrior was born because I heard someone say ‘When someone makes a racist/ sexist/ homophobic/ you-name-it comment or joke, call them out on it. Express your displeasure, so that the person understands the effect his ignorance has.’ That message did something for me. From that point on, I felt part of the movement.
Currently I live in Moldova and boy, I gotta tell you… Living here is a 24/7 opportunity to play justice warrior. With the racial profiling, sexist jokes and a deeply rooted homophobia, I can’t help but sigh in frustration. I’ve seen and heard mind-numbing ignorance that makes me lose heart. What’s worse? Few people appreciate liberalism here. Few people appreciate a different opinion. Some even equate tolerance to weakness. They believe in what they’ve been taught, and the idea to question it doesn’t even faze them. Because why should they question it, if everything’s fine just the way it is?
Having opposite beliefs in my country, let alone expressing them, equals being an outsider. Yet I take strange pride in it, with all the empowerment the Internet has given me. I don’t laugh at ignorant jokes for the sake of not causing awkward silences. I LOVE expressing my disagreement and displeasure. I love opening a discussion and making people question their beliefs. I love it so much that at this point… I fear that I’m doing it just for the hell of it.
I take pride in being open-minded, but I fear that I have taken it to the next level. I fear that I no longer stand up for the belief of the movement, but my own benefit of sounding unconformable and exotic. I fear that I tend to jump into arguments, just like people do in the comment section on YouTube, just for the sake of disagreeing. I fear that, with my own two hands, I make my liberalism sound cheap, and it makes me cringe.
I fear that in an attempt to stand up for a minority, or a cause, or a movement, I’ve unconsciously become ‘chronically offended’.