2020 is drawing to a close, and wow, what a year it has been. I’ve been through a lot and I’m sure you have too – and we are probably still going through some pretty extraordinary times.
There have been many thoughts and things I had wished to write about, but many times I felt that I haven’t completely thought things through in a thorough manner. I would rather not write something in haste. Other times, I simply do not know how to broach a subject in these tense times, especially with emotions running high, I may come across the wrong way.
It is so easy to jump the gun, to post a black square on my Instagram, to send links to everyone to support businesses from a certain people, or to air my views about politics, politicians, to criticise the behaviour of someone. I prefer to mull over things for a while. I want to take time to think independently, gather the facts, perhaps investigate other viewpoints to gain a different perspective. I guess that’s why I’ve always been somewhat of a researcher, and thus viola this blog came into fruition.
On the contrary to what some may believe, I feel strongly about the recent events and it has made me upset, and I have even felt anger. However, I chose not to act brashly. I also feel that one should be careful discussing things out of context (by tweeting/posting). The most elegant solution was thus to not publicly discuss them, except to some close friends and family (if, at all).
After much thought, I’ve noticed some rather vulgar behaviours that have become mainstream and I thought about how can one properly behave and act correctly in the wake of the emerging ‘woke’ culture. Too many voices telling us what to do, and how can we navigate this like a cultivated person?
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
These days, it is a lot easier for any one to air their concerns and speak up. You don’t need to be a newscaster, the Queen, or anyone famous to have an audience. With social media, you might even reach an audience you would have never been able to if you were born 50 years earlier, and reach more people you could have ever imagined if your posts went viral.
And because of that, it is also much easier to criticise someone and let that person know that you are criticising her. (Thus those comments and emails to me when I chose to be silent over certain issues). In the past, if I saw a questionable advertisement, I would just mention in passing to my bestfriend, or perhaps write a letter of complaint to the company. Whether or not the company chose to read them, I may never know. These days, you can definitely made your voice heard!
And that results in the massive amount of voices heard these days. Everyone has an opinion. And everyone wants their opinion to be heard. And then comments about that opinion follows which can turn into lively discussion and also many unnecessary arguments which lead to more sinister things.
I believe in the freedom of speech. However that does not constitute being rude. And one shouldn’t abuse this freedom to simply say whatever they simply like. In order for true freedom of speech, one has to have mutual respect for other people’s convictions especially if they are different from your own! To force your opinion on others or worse, force others to do what you want them to do (even if it is to post a black picture on Instagram) is actually being aggressive, quite violent and very rude. Don’t assume how others think or feel. Freedom of speech also means they can choose to be silent. Even if you strongly oppose their opinion or their choice to be silent, still always respect their beliefs & convictions.
INTOLERANCE & CANCEL CULTURE
There were some dramatic people who wrote to me telling they are disappointed that I did not do this or that for elegantwoman.org, I didn’t make a stand so on and so forth. And therefore they have unfollowed me, unsubscribed etc. First of all, I don’t think it’s right to tell anyone what to do! Isn’t that absurd, you don’t even know me, you just read my blog, and who do you think you are to tell me what to do? Just move along, while I do have books & things for sale on my site, they don’t even cover the costs of running this site, which I’ve done mainly as a project out of love. I say this in the gentlest possible way. I’m not here to compete with any influencer or blogger, in fact I shy away from even putting my heart out here, it’s just who I am. It takes me a lot to write and share.
I see a lot of INTOLERANCE, and sometimes I do worry about the young people growing up with social media. It is so easy to NOT tolerate differences and indulge. Even if you think so-and-so shouldn’t have done xx thing or said yy thing, let it go. The egoistic types would to relate everything to themselves, “I wouldn’t do this…” (And so? You are not them. Maybe be thankful for that). I don’t see why we should criticise someone publicly who has said something controversial or go after them with cancel culture. It is your right to withdraw support but to cancel everything, go further and ruin their jobs, family and future? Why is there this strong need to punish when we are neither God or the law? Perhaps social media gives people a sense of overinflated self-importance and a sense of power.
This intolerance and cancel culture is ruining the authenticity of stories, writers, movie makers – some of them who simply want to tell a story the way it happened in their head. Now they have to try to squeeze in ‘representation’ into their stories just to appease the public. Every movie has to have a token xx, yy, a person of certain orientation etc etc. How sad when original stories or even HISTORY have to be altered just for this.
It is just normal to not 100% wholly agree with a person. It is also normal to feel strong emotions for justice. It is also very normal to be a little apprehensive of someone who is different, or from a culture you know little of. It is simply impossible to know everything and that fear, or hesitation is a normal thing. Such feelings always will exist, whether you admit it or not. But how you choose to act in response, that is based on your character and values. It is also through education, etiquette that we can increase our awareness in order to be kind and fair to everyone.
I shall risk diving into the deep end and share some examples IN MY OPINION ONLY – PLEASE TOLERATE. I personally find it absurd that a certain beauty company decided they would remove “Fair & Lovely” on their whitening products, due to the recent outcry and cancel culture. But what if I want to be fair because that skin tone just suits me? It is, afterall, a whitening product. Why take out that slogan? I’m not implying that you can’t be “Sunkissed & Lovely”. And I know women from both ends of the Spectrum, those that wants to be fair & lovely and others who want to be sun-kissed & lovely.
In another instance, I curate @elegant.woman on Instagram based on what I like. I happen to really like the KOREAN make up look & some of their style. So I feature KOREAN/ASIAN models quite regularly because it is what inspires me. No one commented on that before until recently when certain issues were all that rage. I may sometimes feature other women/models of non-asian skin, but I don’t post things with the mindset of “Oh, the feed is too ORANGE, I need to add some GRAY & RED in there for a wider “REPRESENTATION”. If you need inspiration from GREY & RED, there are a tonne GREY & RED accounts out there in social media. Go follow them! In fact, you can still follow me too. It is not mutually exclusive. Forcing me to fit your desires is such appalling controlling behaviour. If I just pander to everyone, then elegantwoman wouldn’t be authentic any longer, because I’m catering to people’s whims instead of being true to myself.
Do you really want inauthenticity? Let the freedom of speech & choices happen for everyone. If slightly inauthentic but wider representation, so be it and if that’s what you’re into. Let everyone choose freely, as you would like to choose yourself. There’s a time and place for everything. Let everyone be who they are, their feed can be completely PURPLE, it just doesn’t have to be mine. And even if you think I should have more representation, that is your opinion, but could you just kindly tolerate me?
Let’s take a look a polite society.
My friend, A, who married a Japanese woman and currently lives in Japan, became so fluent in Japanese, such that the Japanese locals often mistook him for being Japanese. However, because he did not grow up in Japanese culture, he often makes his in-laws worried at gatherings (such as weddings) when he engages others in conversation. According to them, he ‘too freely airs his opinions’, to the point where they quickly explain and almost apologetically to everyone that “Oh, he’s not Japanese”. A is not an opinionated guy. He is a regular, very intelligent guy whom I love having conversations with because his opinions & thoughts are something I would be very interested in. To him, he is just having regular conversation and even then, it is too much for Japanese culture. Why? They value cohesiveness and is always worried to offend. So they rather not air any strong opinions (or if any) at all.
It is also a long-standing fact that the monarchy of the UK – the world’s most famous royal family – does not get involved in politics. I believe they, like us, share views & opinions on political matters, who should or should not be president etc. But they mostly choose to remain neutral publicly and will welcome any President visiting. Why do you think it is so? I believe it is etiquette, something I hope will continue to prevail and set an example for us all. I get so turned off when celebrities try to get all political or post things that rile up people’s emotions (are you nonchalantly contributing to the madness?). To the celebrities: “What are you doing? How irresponsible of you, the one who has millions of followers? Don’t assume everyone can understand fully what you’re saying by one post? And who do you think you are? You are famous because you act and sing and host and say funny things. You are not famous because you are the voice of reason.” I was absolutely horrified.
Now I’m not saying that one should keep mum on such matters at all costs. It is one’s choice. I mainly choose to do so, because I get so awkward and sensitive … I find it so hard to navigate conversations especially when my friends, perhaps unintentionally, choose to impose their political opinions on me. If you enjoy lively discussions, and can do so eloquently without offence or imposing your opinion, sure, go right ahead. The French, who also highly values etiquette, manages to do this well. They enjoy lively debates which are deemed as interesting conversations.
I also notice a trend where everyone wants share absolutely everything that it’s over-sharing. They share what they had for lunch, workplace frustrations, their emotions, thoughts, opinions publicly (or to their followers). They expect others to share at that level too. That is so common place, it bothers me. I think privacy is important for your mental health. We need room to work things out, to make blunders and grow in private. Have you ever wonder why do people share or over share? It is one thing to simply fulfil the need to express oneself, and another to assume that anyone is interested in what you have to say. I think there is a place for everything, and while you may or may not have a huge influence, everyone has an influence on somebody. One has to be careful on how she should use that influence, bearing in mind that some unnecessary sharing (broadcasts) may just be noise.
This oversharing, hating, raging, triggered, acting brashly on social media is being irresponsible with the influence you have. Perhaps it has indeed gotten the attention to your supposedly passionate causes, but it has also instigated unrest, riots and other behaviours that actually do not contribute in any positive way to society. I think one should carefully consider that before “airing your views freely” ( in the words of my friend’s Japanese in-laws).
I’m sometimes a little taken aback to see so much emotion online. You can find posts of bliss, sadness, low-self-esteem, anger, rage, despair etc. I’m not even born in the 50s but that makes me uncomfortable. In those days, it is considered good etiquette to be mild-mannered, and not to show too much emotion in the extremes. To show you are angry is to have lost control of one’s self, and that is not looked upon favourably. Likewise, it is frowned upon to be extremely excited and unable to contain yourself. I never quite understood this etiquette then, but I’m starting to see why now. How you behave, what you say affects others in more ways than you might realise, so thus, having manners is to be contained, filter and keep somethings to yourself!
In modern times, we have a sharing culture. I do it too. I also have to ask myself honestly – why do I feel the need to share this? Am I doing it to feel better about myself? Will anyone care? Why do I have to wish someone on Facebook publicly when I can simply send a personal message? Will that person enjoy the broadcast? I think sometimes we overestimate how much others care about what we say (i.e. post, publish, broadcast). One YouTuber inspired me and made me laugh for days when he said, “I’m a nobody. I’m just a guy from Southern-California. Nobody cares about me.” It was a comment in passing, just showing that he’s an ordinary guy, and not from a prominent family, and even that issue (which he was discussing) did not bypass him. Firstly, it made me laugh so much with the description of himself. However it also left such an impact on me that I will remember it forever! He was humble by just admitting he was just an ordinary guy, yet he said it not to get pity, but in a secure and confident way. He was so authentic. And so I now say that to myself too with a big smile on my face… who am I? Why do I have to say this? Do I think by commenting on these political opinions, I may actually have the power to sway votes? Hmmmm…
To conclude, let the more important matters prevail such as kindness & consideration, tolerance of differences, freedom, manners, and mutual respect. Let’s acknowledge that your neighbour is not the same, celebrate the differences, respect their choices and if they are in need, help them anyway.