“Midwest nice” interferes with public dialogue

Ananda Easley (‘19)

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As both a Midwesterner and someone who wants to be a psychology therapist one day, I have trained myself to be pretty impartial. Sometimes I wish I were more opinionated. Opinionated people seem to have all the fun. But it is more than that. Opinions make us who we are. They make society function, or they can cause chaos. They spark roasts and flames and other fiery speeches. They inspire the masses. They drive change. You know what I want to change? Our lack of opinions. I understand that opinions can be used in a very negative way, but this is about the positive use of them.
I know this is all very hypocritical coming from me. I am one of the most agreeable people you will meet. But I am trying to prove that even an unassuming victim of Midwestern politeness can take a stance once in a while.

I believe that we have a generational issue on our hands. We are just as opinionated as ever. There is no denying that. But we say, “Oh I love that!” or “I hate that!” so easily. Do you really? Do you really love those cat videos your roommate just showed you? Do you actually care enough to hate that new Snapchat filter? I am calling you out. I am afraid that, as a generation, we have neither the courage, nor the care to listen to each other and form deep, insightful opinions. Instead, we depend on simple agreeableness and flippant remarks. We nod our heads and say “Mmhmm” without really thinking about what we are agreeing with. Oftentimes, we do it simply to get the conversation over with faster. That needs to change.

I believe that at the heart of the overuse of social media is a plea for attention. We all want to be loved, cared about, and told we are special and that we matter. Those extra tweets? That picture on Facebook? This is what they say to me: Love me or hate me, just care enough about me to respond. But we do not take the time to show we care about others. We do not take the time to really sit down and listen to what they have to say because we are afraid of what they might say.

When we no longer have the courage to look each other in the eyes and say “Good morning,” our society is in trouble. How many times have you walked past someone on the sidewalk, only to look away because you feel awkward? It is okay. I have definitely done it too. People can be intimidating because face to face contact is hard. You are confronted with the full, unedited version of a person. In reality, you cannot filter out those pimples or delete that insensitive remark? That is because real life does not come with undo buttons or filters.

I am afraid that instead of confronting the messiness of being a human with real life emotions, we are hiding behind screens and politely nodding our heads. We are afraid to disagree with each other in reality. But guess what? Emotions are a huge part of being human. Here is my challenge for you: next time you message someone, ask yourself, “Would I say that to their face?” If the answer is no, then ask yourself why not?

You are probably mentally nodding your head right now. Stop it. I want someone to really think about what I am saying and fight me. Find a flaw in my argument. And if you can not, then you had better come up with a good reason for why you agree with me. So, peace out, peeps. I would love to meet you on the paper battleground next week.

P.S. This was all sparked because I heard that nobody even submits opinion pieces to Chips anymore.

Ananda Easley (‘19)

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