Today’s installment of introverted activism is a bit of a continuation from last week’s, in that we’re going to talk about, well, talking. Lightly bringing up whatever it is you’re interested in in a conversation not only turns you into the go-to person for that subject, but also keeps you thinking about it almost daily, which will keep you inspired.
Regardless of how much you think you know, constantly educate yourself. In this day and age things become old news in minutes. Read and listen to everything, always. Maybe even become a little obsessed with the subject. You will learn what certain specific words mean, which will be helpful when people try to talk you down, you’ll learn some history, why so many people are upset about certain aspects of the subject, and just as importantly, you will feel confident enough to talk to others about it. Which brings us to actually talking. Engage in conversations about the things you’re passionate about. I know, this is the introvert’s guide so that may be a little daunting, but I don’t mean start ranting aimlessly. I mean if let’s say someone you know is slut-shaming, kindly express your opinion, “Well it’s not like they actually did anything wrong…”
Oftentimes, as I’m sure you’ve heard, people don’t expect to be called out. Let alone politely. So when they are, it kind of makes them think. It doesn’t always work mind you, some folks just want to argue and will not try to see both sides ever.
See both sides.
Even though you know one side is probably actually wrong, try to remember that a lot of the messed up stuff people say about others is institutionalized. There may have been a point in your life as well where you said things that weren’t cool, but at the time you didn’t know you were being offensive. That’s probably the point the person you’re debating is at. So keep that in mind and try to meet them halfway. They may bring up the fact that you too once thought the way they do, why is that different now? In the nicest way possible, explain how learning works. (I’ve genuinely never been able to respond to that question politely, regardless of my shyness.)
In relation to being patient with the “wrong side,” listen to other people when you or even an organization you support are called out. It took me a couple years to finally let go of PETA because I just didn’t want to hear that they were sexist fatphobic jerks, among other things. Learn to accept that it might be time to look into more local groups, (but also (as I did last week,) accept that they may have a significant amount of resources that others don’t, that you sometimes may need to use.)
And when you are called out for something, ask how you can improve next time, I know it sucks when you really think you’re doing everything well and one person tells you that you said a jerk-y thing. But nothing fixes that up better than apologizing, improving, and using that new knowledge next time.