I wrote my first-ever opinion piece about reckless people operating their jet-skis on a lake. It was June, and there were little ducklings everywhere. I was twelve years old, and I was angry. My piece was published in the local newspaper, and I felt better, even proud. I have always been opinionated, but after my teenage years I started to struggle with finding an outlet for my opinions. With strong views come people who don't agree with you, and being able to deal with confrontation has never been one of my virtues.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Observations, Opinions and Blogging
In my early 20s I became best friends with relativism. It was a great way to sound smart without having to carry that baggage of being the opinionated girl. No one likes a girl with opinions, right? It was a dangerous path to stray on. At university my essays would often portray an issue from as many standpoints as possible and my conclusions were grossly diluted. As much as I had to say, I voiced nothing. My low point with relativism came when I found myself defending a culture's right to female genital mutilation and the use of child soldiers. That was not where I wanted to be.
I write about this because the response to my post about the "ugly" Americans got me thinking about opinions. One commentator mentioned that I should have kept my thoughts to a personal journal, and another wrote that it was unfair of me to draw such general conclusions of this country and its people so soon. I am the first one to admit that I wrote the piece in question when I was angry, and it shows. In my struggles to become less of a relativist I have noticed that anger gets me talking. I used to be awfully cautious, and I'd supress any sense of instinct and moral judgement I might have had. I'd exhaust every possible aspect of a given issue before saying anything. Not only was that awfully consuming, but it often left other people troubled. All that talk, and no way of finding out how I really felt. These days I try to go with my gut-feeling instead of making excuses for others. I observe tentatively and I do some research, but I am not a social scientist (well, actually I am, but not for the purpose of this blog), and I try to become more comfortable with having strong viewpoints even if I don't have multiple fact sheets on my side. Doing this makes me feel better about myself, and it certainly tends to create conversation.
Let me cut to the chase: I have recently moved to a different continent. My life is bombarded with new ideas, practices and norms on a daily basis. Settling down to a new culture is never going to be easy, and there is only so far I can go with cultural relativism. There is a real danger of losing oneself if one only entertains things that are positive. Some aspects of living here are wonderful, others terrifying. My observations are, of course, very personal in nature, and I have assumed that they would make interesting reading for many. However, the last thing I want is to be disrespectful towards the country and the people who are hosting me. However, if I write about my settling down here, there are going to be ups and downs in the process. I am not big enough a person to only write about the happy stuff. Which is why I ask you: does my settling down in the US make interesting reading? Does anyone want to hear about the negative stuff, or even the positives? Do you blog if you are angry, or having a bad day? Where do you draw the line when writing about opinions?
On a different note: I went to see Crazy Heart last night. It was the same cinema, but a very different crowd. As I sat there with my fellow movie-goers, there was only silence and awe to witness this gem of a movie. Go see it, Jeff Bridges is amazing.