17 votes

When was the last time your perspective changed on a topic? And, what caused you to reevaluate it?

I felt prompted to start this conversation because of a book I'm reading called "Shyness and Society - An Illusion of Competence" by Susie Scott. In it, she approaches the (Western/European) concept of a "shy person" from a sociological perspective: What characteristics are ascribed to that label, how is shyness depicted in media, what kind of messages are associated with the concept, etc.

I've gone my life assuming that there's a rigid distinction between "shy" and "non-shy" people, as if it was some innate temperament that a human mind can take on. But... this book makes a really interesting argument for shyness as a socially-oriented state of mind that is socially produced and managed. It's been really interesting to reevaluate how I've incorporated shyness into my own personal narrative and identity. Especially as someone who's floated through North American psychiatric systems which characterize social functioning in a very specific way.

I find it so interesting to deconstruct concepts that we internalize as fundamental truths!

What about you?

4 comments

  1. monarda
    Link
    It's not the most recent, but it the most memorable, and something I am now constantly vigilant about: racism. I grew up in a deeply racist family in a deeply racist community. To give you an...

    It's not the most recent, but it the most memorable, and something I am now constantly vigilant about: racism.

    I grew up in a deeply racist family in a deeply racist community. To give you an idea, something that was considered funny was to not let a person of color pass in front of your car when you were stopped at a red light. You'd jerk forward almost into oncoming traffic to force them to walk behind your car. Funny, right?

    When I got out of there, I shed many of the chains that defined who we were as a family and a community. I didn't have any friends who had a darker skin tone than me, but people of color didn't fill me with rage, or make my skin crawl like I had been taught they should. I mostly didn't think about "them" at all, so considered myself not racist.

    I ended up in a nice liberal city on the west coast with polite drivers, and I quickly assimilated. No matter how much of a hurry I was in, I always had time to let someone else in. I mean sometimes I didn't but most of the time I did. One day, I didn't let someone in, and I noted they were driving a red Cadillac and were black. The next time I wasn't going to let someone in, I noted they were playing loud rap music, and they were black. It was like a slap in the face. I was racist. How many other interactions through my days did I act like this. Quite a bit it turned out.

    And it wasn't just me, it was everywhere. Anytime I tried to discuss this truth about myself, the response was met with defensiveness, as if by admitting that it was true that I was racist, they would have to admit they were racist too.

    It's been a couple of decades since this revelation, but behaviors still pop out of me that are racist, and they still always shock me, and many people who consider themselves not racist exhibit these same behaviors. So I guess the truth that has been slowly dawning on me, is that we live in a profoundly racist culture, and it is at its most insidious when it can hide.

    12 votes
  2. ubergeek
    Link
    Labor Unions, and the previously, religion. Labor union opinion change due to the 2008 recession, when I saw bankers bailed out, and many friends who were out of work, for a long time, a couple of...

    Labor Unions, and the previously, religion.

    Labor union opinion change due to the 2008 recession, when I saw bankers bailed out, and many friends who were out of work, for a long time, a couple of which haven't recovered yet. One former Senior VP of Software Architecture is now working at 7-11. He's a broken man now. Bankers could be bailed out, but goddam it, if we bail out workers.

    It was during that period that something clicked and said, "Yep. Unions. They aren't just lazy crooks... Thats how we demand changes."

    9 votes
  3. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    When I was 18, I firmly believed women were inferior. I had a girlfriend of the same age, and according to my beliefs I not only should, but also could control her. I verbally abused her so she...

    When I was 18, I firmly believed women were inferior. I had a girlfriend of the same age, and according to my beliefs I not only should, but also could control her.

    I verbally abused her so she understood her inferior position.

    She very publicly cheated on me with my best friend, and not as publicly with many other people. After that, she ended the relationship, and was soon, also very publicly, in a relationship with this "friend".

    They ended up married. She cheated on him multiple times (not with me). Learning this did not bring me any satisfaction. But, with time, he too learned his lesson.

    I was devastated. But I definitely changed my perspective on this topic. Drastically.

    Some lessons must be learned through pain.

    A few years ago, this girl started announcing to the world she was going to commit suicide. My previous friend visited me. They had divorced, and he was worried she would manipulate me into a relationship. I put him at ease: we both knew who we were dealing with.

    But I started talking to her every day via the internet. You see: I had lost a friend to suicide, and also tried to do the same. I vowed to never let that happen again. In our conversations, I convinced her that her suicide would deeply affect me, among every persuasion technique in the book. It worked. One day, she stopped talking to me. She did not need me anymore. This did not hurt me, I wasn't looking for praise. Nowadays, she is, again, married, with some other guy. I check her social media from time to time.

    She seems well.

    7 votes
  4. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Last time, IDK. I'm sure there have been more recent ones (my views on bias/bigotry, for instance, change regularly), but this was a big, memorable one. I was a firm believer in the Peak Oil...

    Last time, IDK. I'm sure there have been more recent ones (my views on bias/bigotry, for instance, change regularly), but this was a big, memorable one.

    I was a firm believer in the Peak Oil scenario. Broadly, I sort of still am ... obviously, we have a finite supply, and no one really knows how much remains available in the ground ... so if we keep using it (even utterly ignoring the climate problem), eventually, we start to run out, and if society wasn't prepared for it (and, hey, it wasn't), society starts to crash.

    All of that was and still is true. The conspiracy-theory-ish part of it was the timeline, the idea that the Peak was much closer than people realized. For years, I was convinced that P.O. was a much more imminent threat than climate change, and even more so, because most people didn't even take it seriously.

    I took it Very Seriously. I thought the modern hi-tech world was literally going to crash into Apocalypse, beginning Any Day Now. I learned a lot about primitive survival, self-defense, I maintained a large emergency food supply, my own long-term seed bank, bug-out bags, drove a Jeep, etc, etc. Sarah Connor was my role model.

    This started around 2004-2005-ish. Around 2014-2015, I changed my mind about it. Not, you know, overnight ... but basically, I just read the news, as objectively as I could, looking for signs. Contrary to what I expected, I saw things getting better for fossil fuel production, year after year ... oil prices came down, the US developed new extraction techniques (most notably, fracking), previously unavailable reserves became available again thanks to new tech, wells that had been "dry" were re-opened.

    Eventually, I accepted that the P.O. timeline was just far too pessimistic, and I quit worrying about it. Now, climate change is my chosen doomsday scenario to focus on ... although, I do also think people are waaay underestimating the existential dangers of AI ... but that's a topic for a future post.

    My main takeaway from the experience is to always remember, no matter how smart I am, how well-researched--and most importantly--how certain I am about something ... I still might be wrong.

    That's a lesson I think most people understand in principle, but very few really internalize.

    5 votes