Monday, July 8, 2013

Please don't shame me...I just want to talk.

We don't all learn the same way. I think that's clear. Everyone learns differently and certain methods of learning will go over some folk’s heads, while other methods would have a huge and potentially lasting impact. 

One of the ways people learn is through conversation and/or debate. This applies especially to social issues. People are exposed to ideas and concepts that they've never even thought about, thus...they're not likely to go and research, or read books about if they'd never even thought about it before. This is quite useful in social media. 

While the average person going about their life; in this case, let's say we're talking about the average trans* person; they should not be expected to answer questions about being trans*. (Though we all know plenty of people who ask plenty of questions; appropriate or not...) However, a person who considers themselves to be an advocate should be willing and/or able to answer questions or direct people towards resources. (Even advocates need time off for self care and fun.) 

When in a position to advocate and educate you will run into people who are ignorant to your views or experiences. Either by their own choice to be ignorant, or because they've not experienced the ideas or concepts before. 

It can sometimes feel like you're stuck on "101 level" for all of eternity. I know..but that doesn't mean that people don't need you. You might sometimes feel like shouting out "I'm not a book!! Go check out any of the many books/blogs/DVDs on the topic!!" Then again, if they knew of such resources I'd like to think they'd seek those out. (Brings us back o the beginning of this blog...everyone learns differently, and many learn through conversation) 

Many people meet new information that is different than currently held beliefs with aggression; be that verbal or physical. Learning new information that is at odds with existing beliefs or understanding is uncomfortable. Advocates and educators need to understand that this is normal human behavior. One never should accept violence against themselves, but a little understanding goes a long way. Being able to explain to the person where their discomfort stems from and normalizing the behavior may ease the experience and allow for a more healthy coping mechanism.

Knowing all of this…I've recently had two ideas that are somewhat contradictory; and I wanted to talk to someone about it in hopes that I might come to a better understanding. The specific issue isn't that important…What prompted this post was that perhaps I was ignorant to a concept, or didn't have full understanding. I learn via conversations, and understand concepts best through talking with people. Stands to reason that this is why that’s my preferred mode of educating/advocating.

When I sought out someone to talk to I was nervous about appearing ignorant, wanting to “fit in” and not be bothersome. I started to notice a trend…the community of people I was looking to talk to shamed people for being ignorant or disagreeing with them. Even to question their views would subject you to ridicule and name calling.

To ridicule someone for differing views is to encourage them to anchor into their view which we’re trying to change. You can’t SHAME people into agreeing with you. Pretty sure that’s not how that works.