“I really couldn’t care what you thought of my blog and the views expressed in it. In fact, I could care less of whether you really read it or not.”
Now a statement like that can be considered really inappropriate if read independently or read without reference to the correct context. In fact, if anything that statement borders on downright rude to all the readers of the blog and will surely result in more than a few readers choosing to unfollow the blog or even resort to retorting with comments with more than just a piece of their minds.
However, if this statement had been preceded by a paragraph which stated the real reasons as to why I blog and went on to narrate justification as to why I consider my blog my personal space and how I am justified in expressing my opinions (right or wrong) on my blog without necessarily worrying about how readers perceive the same, then maybe, just maybe, that might take most of the ‘sting’ out of that statement, wouldn’t it?
And that, dear readers, is where the concept of ‘political correctness’ (the topic of this post) comes into play.
While it is a generally accepted opinion that a blog is a purely personal space of the blogger where he can express his points of view on anything and everything under the sun without fear of recrimination of any kind. That being said, all bloggers can expect their fair share of bouquets and brickbats from their readers based on which side of the fence they sit on. For example, in the current climate, a post highlighting some of the lesser known cons of feminism will surely attract more brickbats than bouquets from readers who would surely lambast the blogger for taking a stand which is not necessarily in line with the majority public opinion. Conversely, any post which highlights the plight of Child Sexual Abuse will surely find sympathetic comments, shares and even more than its fair share of ‘likes’ as well. That is a reality that all bloggers have to deal with, just like publishers of all ‘public content’ have to deal with online and offline, as well.
That being said, how much of a role does ‘political correctness’ have to play when publishing a blog. In my opinion, given the nature of polarization and relative ‘heat’ of online discussions in forums such as Facebook and blogs, being politically correct is the ‘easier way out’, even if it means stifling honest discussion and chewing one’s words.
I mean, end of day, all of us write to be read, don’t we? Whether our readership is in the 10s, 100s or 1000s, we all want our posts to be read, to be commented upon and wherever feasible, to go viral as well. And in such a scenario, the safer route to take would be to take the ‘politically correct’ stance on the topics being blogged about. And this is quite easy in most situations, given that most of us tend to display a ‘herd mentality’ when it comes to blogging about topics which are in vogue and are current in nature.
However, when a blogger writes fiction, retells stories from popular narrative, expresses an opinion about a movie, he has the freedom of ‘creative license’ not to be politically correct and express his true opinion about the topic. In such cases, all of us are conditioned to accept that the blogger took a particular stand on the topic based on his own perceptions about the same and he is entitled to the same. As long as the post itself is not ‘explosive’ in nature and is relatively objective enough, readers don’t take issues to the same.
Taking both sides of the coin into account, my personal view on this topic is that ‘political correctness’ is an over-rated concept and I would even go far enough to say that only people who are not good at expressing their points of view objectively take refuge in the same. I mean, end of day, we are all opinionated people in some form or fashion, which probably is the reason we all started writing blogs, reading them and commenting on them in the first place, right. And if we are unable to take a stand on topics (taking no sides in an argument is also a valid stand), then to be honest, we have no locus standi in either writing a post on a topic or commenting on the same.
If we don’t have anything useful to say on a topic, it is better that we keep silent and let others who have a view talk about it. That to me is ‘useful political correctness’, if there is such a term.
Now, that I have ruffled a few feathers, am waiting for the comments section of this post to be inundated with your points of view on whether I was politically correct or not in this post along with your reasons for the same.
This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to discuss whether political correctness is a useful concept or does it stifle honest discussions.
19 thoughts on “Being politically correct”
Political correctness is one thing I have never bothered about since I hardly ever talk of ‘political’ things and, of course, by that I do not mean ONLY politics 🙂
There is one caveat that I would add, though! When we write – on blogs or wherever we are not forced to write – we are open to be treated as writers and expected to know HOW to express ourselves. It is one thing to take a stand, quite another to phrase it in a manner suited to injure people. An intent to be honest is not a license to be rude or hurtful.
That said, it is difficult to not injure everyone – when to many, mere disagreement seems injurious. Taking care enough to ensure that you do not cause gratuitous injury is one thing, stifling yourself to avoid causing injury to anyone is another.
@Suresh, point well taken, while care must be taken not to deliberately hurt anybody’s sensibilities or political views, it seems to be increasingly difficult with more and more people closing themselves to world views other than their own, don’t you think 🙂
I do not ONLY mean deliberately, Jairam! I mean that, as writers, we ought to know the impact of HOW we express in addition to what we express AND should take care not to cause hurt by the way we say things. For example, when your child draws a picture, you can say, “Is this a cow? Looks more like a dog to me.” OR you can say, “Wow! You do have a skill for drawing. If you made the figure larger, the face a bit broader and added horns, it would make a far better cow, don’t you think?” Provided really the child has an aptitude for drawing, you are not being dishonest in either case, if the drawing does look more look a dog. BUT, by saying the former, you make the child feel that it is useless at drawing and by saying the latter you build up its confidence while still correcting the flaws. THAT is what I mean by ‘HOW’ and by ‘impact of words’.
When you disagree with a person, it is always possible to disagree on the point without pulling the person down. Where the other point also has some points of validity, it is possible to state that as well. I mean, it is one thing to say, “This argument in support of this point is flawed” and another to say, “Only a fool will believe this thing.”
AND, as for the over-sensitivity of people, have I not mentioned that myself? 🙂 AND said that it is one thing to choose your words and another to stifle your voice? 🙂
The reason why I mentioned this at all was because I find, all too often, that people end up being rude by not choosing their words carefully and blame the other person for over-sensitivity or inability to take honest criticism.
@Suresh, hmmm, points to ponder. While I agree with you in principle, the fact remains that you advocate treating bloggers like children who cannot take honest (but rudely worded) feedback in their stride.
And as for disagreeing with a person without being rude about it, and without pulling the person down, I agree with you on that completely. And that is precisely what I mentioned in the reply to Rachna’s comment just now as well.
As for people being rude in the first place and then blaming the other person being too sensitive, that is something that most of us to do to shift the blame off ourselves, isn’t it 🙂
Hmm! A smiley would have helped 🙂
@Suresh, a smiley would have been ‘politically correct’, wouldn’t it have 😀
This is the first time I see you resorting to rhetoric in riposte to a point, Jairam! I am surprised. No, I am not saying that bloggers are children who cannot take rudely worded criticism in their stride. I AM saying that bloggers ought to be writers enough to know when they ARE being rude AND, if knowing full well that they are being rude they proceed to say things the way they say it, the other person has a right to treat them as they would treat any rude person.
It is one thing for one person to be mature enough to take rudeness in his stride, quite another to cite that maturity on the part of that person to excuse the rudeness of the other.
@Suresh, agreed, people who ‘give’ must be ready to ‘take’ as much, and that sadly is lacking in more than quite a few people nowadays 🙂
And my resorting to rhetoric in that reply was just for fun, nothing serious about it 🙂
I have noticed that no matter what stand you take, when you write on an explosive topic, you are bound to hurt a few people. Like you said and it is true, bloggers are an opinionated lot. Why else will we be having our experiences and opinions laid out threadbare for anyone to read? At the same time, it is important not to go overboard with being honest by being rude. Dissent can be expressed in a decent and fair manner and most bloggers can take it. Those who can’t, stifle conversations on their own. It being a public medium, I believe one has to be a bit careful about what footprints one is leaving behind. That said, a blog is a blogger’s domain. How much honesty they practise is an individual call.
@Rachna, my personal belief all along has been ‘to each his own’ and as long as the author is not attacking any individual personally, then I am ok with any kind of opinions on blogs. After all, like you say, it’s your blog and you can go ahead and do what you want with it, as long as Blogger or WordPress don’t have issues with it.
I would agree with Rachna and Suresh as well here. While we say ‘to each his own’ we need to express our opinions in a decent and fair manner and if anyone differs from it then to accept that difference in a polite and constructive manner. Like it or not reputations are made and destroyed based on how you get perceived. That in no ways means that you shouldn’t express what you feel but there is a way to go about it….
@Seeta, fair enough, ‘to each his own’ does come attached with the disclaimer that the ‘own’ does not disrespect or offend someone else intentionally.
Interesting post Jairam.’Political correctness’ – Yes its true that bloggers do practice this. Firstly,the topic one chooses to write about and secondly , how one writes about the topic itself.As far as choosing a topic goes, one can choose to mainly post on non-controversial topics which is entirely a person’s privilege. It also depends on how much a controversial post can incite the viewers.As regards what you write within a post, i think honest posts do stand out. When somebody writes controversial opinions and chooses to write about controversial topics, what stands out for me is the maturity of a writer in handling a given subject and how the person handles dissent. That goes a long way in establishing a blogger’s credentials even if on a particular topic, I might not have not necessarily subscribed to the blogger’s point of view.
@themoonstone, quite true, every so often I find myself disagreeing with a particular post, but like you say, if the arguments have been put forth objectively and respectfully, then the post does make for interesting reading, no doubt.
Quite an interesting post. And quite a few interesting comments too. All valid of course. I’m no longer sure what political correctness is. One person’s right could be (and sometimes is) another person’s wrong. It’s just about the balance. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – and of course a blog is a personal space. But then that brings me on to the question, why blog in the first place and share your posts? One could just write a diary. Or even blog, but keep it private. Or even blog and make it public, but not share. When the choice to share is the writer’s then he/she must be game enough to take criticism or feedback that is thrown too. I know I’ve digressed quite a bit from the topic, but just wanted to state that. On a separate note, there is such a thing as “the mature way to express one’s opinion”. Whilst I mostly “sit-on-the-fence” (yes, I know – not a surprise) or use “fiction to bring out what I need to say”, I also think that if a post honestly tackles a topic even if it involves going against a particular mindset, then even the detractors will try and see the point – or at least accept that there is a point there, even if they may not agree with it. Going in with all guns blazing is just a bomb waiting to explode. So I’d say care needs to be taken with WHAT is expressed and HOW it is expressed, regardless of WHERE it is expressed.
P.S. I love that you are venturing into topics apart from fiction and mythology. You are a talented writer and I’d hate for you to be typecast.
@Sid, so true, like I mentioned in my reply to themoonstone’s comment, every so often I read points of view which are completely opposite of mine, but as long as they are presented objectively and respectfully keeping the context clearly in mind, then they do make for good reading.
And I had always written more than fiction and mythology, it’s just that I want to hone my skills in these areas and that’s why the last year or so have mostly been on these topics. Thank you so much for considering my writing to be ‘talented’ 🙂
ok.. you sound angry here. why?
@pixie, not really angry, but it does tick me off when people don’t realize the difference between an objectively worded opinion and a subjective one and start picking on blog posts based on their flawed judgement of the opinions of the author, that’s all 🙂
I second everything you say. Couldn’t have put it any better. 🙂