Hot-button topics.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mercy by Dave Matthews Band on Grooveshark

We all know what they are and can rattle them off at a moment's notice.  The two most popular?  Why religion and politics of course!  Right?  We all know those people (those people!) who are just chomping at the bit to talk religion and politics.  They just need to be heard, gosh dernit!*  I find it pretty easy to avoid them (I meant the topics, but on second thought, those people too!) but I come by my avoidance naturally.  It ain't hard.  Politics just does not interest me.  It's just too... all over the place?  Too many opinions, promises, broken promises, decisions that can't get made and resolved ever because of this, that, and the other thing.  Steve can't get enough of it.  And then he actually gets stressed about it.  Like, WHAT IS THE POINT?

Religion, well, religion does interest me.  But I am more than okay with keeping it off the table if need be.  I mean, I do have my opinions (hear me!  I have opinions!) and I can voice them with some real vim and vigor, but, I'm going to humble brag for a moment, I sort of pride myself in being seriously open-minded in this venue.  Buddhist?  Cool.  It's got something to offer, no doubt.  Really, really, really conservative?  Less cool.  But still, we'll work with it.  Atheist?  Alright, let's talk.

Hot-button topics.  There are some that I love to talk about.  That I feel strongly about.  That I will go to bat for.  For the most part, I keep these out of conversations too.  Especially if I'm not sure you (the collective you!) will welcome it or you haven't asked for my opinion.  These are the sorts of topics that I'm always afraid I'll speak too passionately about and then later, as I'm driving home, mull over the conversation in my head with regret: "Bridget!  You said too much!  You spoke too authoritatively!  You were too passionate!"  Vaccinations, homeopathy, circumcision, attachment parenting to name a few.  Sure, I've got opinions!  Some strong, some less so.  I try never to let this blog (or my 140-character Twitter allowance or my Facebook status) become my soap-box.  But, in avoiding these topics completely, am I wishy-washy?  Do I seem downright opinion-less?  Am I a sell-out?  Here's the thing.  I just think there are too many people these days who just need to be heard.  Desperate to be heard, even.  Who think every opinion that crosses their mind must be both voiced and validated.  Either from insecurity or from their own inflated self-confidence.  I don't want to be another.

Do you ever think about this?  Do you feel like you owe it to so-and-so to give your opinion?  Do you get yourself into deep water for doing it?  Or are you someone who keeps these things to yourself?  And, if you're a blogger, do you keep these topics off your blog too?

(*They are also the person that has had a Facebook status about Chic-fil-A in the last week.  And the person that you should block from your newsfeed NOW.)

(The song.  Great lyrics and if you try hard enough you can probably relate it to this?)

(This whole post was heavily inspired by this post.  It's a good one.)



  1. I don't really blog about super controversial issues. I may casually state my opinion but I don't hammer out post upon post on divisive topics. I do not blog annonomously so if I wouldn't discuss something at work, I don't post it online. Some may accuse me of being 'scrubbed clean' or wishy-washy but in this era of social media madness, I prefer to err on the side of caution.


  2. I try not to blog about controversial issues, but the more I think about it, I do blog about those things in a way. I think another one to add to the list is food. I never thought food to be a crazy topic, but it certainly has turned into that over the past several years. I try to write in a way that is *my* experience, but I think my sarcasm gets in the way too much, and for some reason people don't understand sarcasm when they read it...who knew? :-) But, there is so much angst in the world right now, I think everyone has a strong opinion on something (especially religion and politics). I am all for having the conversation, but I wish that people wouldn't get so entirely heated. So I have a different opinion than you, ok, let's talk about the differences and then go grab a beer afterwards.

  3. @andthenwelaughed, good rule of thumb! if you won't talk about it at work, then leave it off the blog...

    @heather, agree to disagree and be agreeable! i like the beer at the end :)

  4. i tend to avoid talking about them on the blog too not because i don't have an opinion but because i don't feel comfortable with it. i would hate people to think i was being agressive, arrogant or authoratitative in my opinions. i want my blog to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

    ad if the worst people say is that i am wishy washy then i will take it. not everyone wants to spend their spare time reading political or religious opinions, sometimes it is nice to escape into a world of pretty photos and adorable babies :)

  5. I love the controversial stuff best sometimes, it can be so interesting but I totally understand why one would keep them off the blog (I do it too!) x

  6. I like reading the posts & blogs of people with the opposite opinions of mine. It does sometimes irritates me a good bit, but I always leave challenged to really think about what I'm standing for (especially if it's in opposition). I think it's good to have the conversations, but there HAS to be some relationship there to do it respectfully. I'm so sick of facebook status feuds. Passive aggressive is the new black! I usually feel free to talk about my faith pretty freely on my blog, because I know people can choose to come there are read it on their own accord, but I'm with you on politics- no one will ever win the argument!

  7. "(*They are also the person that has had a Facebook status about Chic-fil-A in the last week. And the person that you should block from your newsfeed NOW.)"

    I guess that would be me :P

    On certain issues, yes, I feel like I have to say something or I'll burst. Maybe it's because my mom and I talk politics and morality and such ALL the time and it can bleed over. I don't really blog about my views, but I do post about them on FB sometimes.

    Also, I'm a fairly conservative person--always have been. But most of my friends are more liberal, probably because they are writers like myself and the arts tend to be liberal (I'm a minority in that area!)It doesn't bother me because we mostly don't talk about politics or religion. When it has come up, it's been civil.

    I do have a relative though, that likes to name call for having different beliefs than she does. I am not OK with that and have since unfriended her on FB because of it. So I think there's definitely a line to cross, it just depends on the person.

  8. @dara, that's ok!! i still love my friends who can't help themselves on facebook! i'm probably guilty of it in the past too...

  9. I know exactly what you mean - everyone these days has an opinion, a voice that needs to be heard and with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and blogs and forums, it's so very easy to make yourself heard without the accountability of entering into a dialogue. How many of these people would be brave enough to have a face-to-face conversation with you about politics etc. without the silk screen of a computer monitor.

    I only engage in conversations like politics or religion if I am face-to-face with someone and I know that person is asking my opinion because they genuinely want to know my opinion (i.e. they do not just want to ask me what I believe so they can lecture me on what they believe.) It's all about being open-minded and respecting other peoples' opinions ... and this works both ways.

    I loathe discussions with people who are incapable of understanding that someone else has a perspective other than theirs. I have close family members who are atheist (I am Christian) and I do not get into discussions about religion with them because they think my religion and beliefs are a myth and based on stories and propaganda and I am narrow and small-minded and unenlightened.

    It's not worth the fight. They don't want to listen. And (to be fair) neither do I. I know my truth, but unlike them I do not feel the need to shove it down their throats. It's my truth. Mine alone. You don't have to believe it, but if you respect me, you better respect all of me.

    Oh, that was a bit of a rant, sorry.

    But, yeah ... never a good idea to engage in politics etc. on the Web ... too many Indians too few chiefs.

    Thanks for sharing, this really got me thinking!

  10. Oooh, bloggers with lots of thoughts lately, I like it! I also read that post, and after my heart spilling post (which was rare for me) I learned a few things. I like being minimally opinionated on my blog. Not that my post was full of controversial opinions, but gosh, I still felt really vulnerable putting it out there. I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable talking about my religious, political, or parenting style beliefs- yikes!! I am a wuss I guess. No, actually I just think my blog isn't the place. I really like to keep my blog positive, simple as that. And people get their panties in a wad when you get into opinions, and then I think it's not so positive anymore. I did learn though, from my recent post, that readers liked hearing a more real, raw side of me. I had mixed reactions about that, because I felt some people loved to hear how about what a hard time I was having a bit too much (and that hurt). But that's the risk I took putting that out there. I never want my blog to come across as "oh, here's our perfect life", but I also enjoy on focusing on the positive. I guess I just figured the fact that my 31 year old husband was still a student, we've spent far too many nights in hospitals with sick kids, we're forced to move almost yearly, would speak for itself:) That AND the fact that doesn't everyone know by now that everyone is fighting a hard battle? I just figured. Okay now I'm rambling. I guess to wrap it all up, I'd say NO, I don't like it when people are so opinionated on their blogs, and I don't think you're a sell out if you're not willing to go there.

    ps- for the record, I think you handle those things beautifully. You don't come off as opinion-less, but also don't shove it down our throats:)

  11. Bridget, I love your strong opinions, especially about things you mentioned - vaccinations, homeopathy, circumcision, and attachment parenting - even if we aren't on the same page, or the same level of passionate, I know I can come to you for a well thought through understanding of the issue. And that is what makes your opinions so great. You don't stand on a soap box jsut cause you read something somewhere that fired you up. You think slow down and thoughtfully consider your position and then you let your passions rise.

    Keep it up!

  12. i don't talk too much about politics or religion in my everyday life so i don't talk about it on my blog. i like to think that my blog is just the best parts of everyday life.

    i think it is okay for people to share their opinions on their blog. we don't all have to agree with one another. mutual respect goes a long way though. honestly my favorite blogs to read aren't hard hitting topic blogs but everyday life fluff.

  13. I guess I have a different opinion about these things. I think if you are really passionate the topics come up because they are on your mind. If you are religious you want to talk about Heavenly Father and his plan because it makes you so happy you want others to find that happiness too. Or, you talk politics because you are passionate about change and you want to inspire others as well. I don't avoid topics of conversation or censor myself. However, I listen to others opinions even those contrary to my own. There's always something to learn.

  14. I try not to blog the controversial stuff too but sometimes while living in Gabon, I felt I should because it wasn't giving a full picture of the country if I didn't. (I did occasionally wonder if the government would track me down and arrest me though!) There are certainly things I feel strongly about and I would defend if challenged but I'm not sure I want a battleground on my blog.

    I'm all about free speech and standing up for what we believe it but I also believe there is a time and a place. I don't go on Facebook to hear those things.

    (By the way, politics & religion interest me but I cannot stand American politics. I get so annoyed with the amount of coverage all over the world and these darn long, drawn out elections, he said, she said, etc - enough to do my head in... so I stay away from it!)

  15. I have a rule that I don't talk about politics or religion online for obvious reasons. But the trouble is that I have a really, really big mouth and LOTS of opinions and also unfortunately have very little tact (I am a chip off the old block, as my father was like this too). I often can't help but let the world know my opinion & it usually ends in people getting really pissed off at my tactless delivery. I really AM an open minded person ... seriously. I only get upset when perceive injustice being done in some way -- and if I do ... watch out.

    I am getting better over time at keeping my mouth shut, though. Its just not worth it unless something seems SERIOUSLY wrong with what others have said.

  16. I haven't even read the post yet because I love DMB! I saw him a few years ago when he played at the Bricktown Ballpark in OKC. LOVE HIM! And I want to go see him again.

  17. I am so tired of hearing about Chick-Fil-A!! I believe that gays should be able to get married or whatever. I also believe that Chick-Fil-A has a right to stand behind their beliefs. I also believe that if people want to boycott them, so be it. Chick-Fil-A is not practicing hate. Sure, they give their money to anti-gay groups, but it is their money.

    I try to stay out of politics and religion as well. But I am not a pushover. I believe in so many things. And I am very opinionated! LOL!

    I think you should always stand up for the things you believe in. And that you should be passionate about them. If someone doesn't like you because of it, then it is their loss. I always say that everyone is entitled to their opinion and we need to learn to agree to disagree.

  18. I have never heard anyone say they felt that way about politics except ME. The only politicians I can get behind are the ones on TV {Jed Bartlet from The West Wing is my fave}. My stance is, believe what you believe, just understand that not everyone else believes it and that's okay. I think people standing up for what they believe in is a good thing, but also I think it's better if they do it in a way that's kind and sensitive to everyone who may be listening {which is hard to do on the Internet}.

    I feel the same way about religion. I love my own religion, and I feel strongly about it, but when it comes to other people I'm mostly just happy that they believe in something. When they look at the world and see beauty and truth and love -- that means more to me than the church they go to {or don't go to}.

    And Facebook is the worst. Just the absolute worst.

  19. My problem is this - "beliefs". Any argument that is prefaced with "I believe" (or "I just feel like..") is simply not creditable as an argument. Even if in reality it is in fact well researched, I think saying that phrase automatically weakens whatever youre about to state. It is a subtle (or not so subtle?) indication that the following opinion is taken on faith alone... Which just isn't convincing to someone who prefers logic (such as myself?). &THAT is when it really starts to sound like you are speaking from a soap box.

    On the other hand, I can handle the phrase "It is my opinion", because I can respect a well educated opinion. A well educated opinion has a place in a discussion. It can add to a discussion. A "belief", not so much. "Beliefs" are not as open to conversation, they don't invite other perspectives. Opinions are always open to change/evolve at the introduction of new information. Opinions are like a snapshot of your current state of learning.

    Now, all of that rambling said... I do not post my opinions on my blog/facebook/instagram whatever. It is unsolicited there. And I tend to hide my friends who do. I will, however, not hesitate to post a link to an article or research study...some source of education on a controversial topic. Because the most important thing is for people to be exposed to the entire range of perspectives on an issue. And to form their own ideas they need to read more than just opinion pieces. Again, if people are educated on issues they can make sound opinions ... much more substantial than "beliefs" or "feelings". I guess people are "entitled" to their opinion, but they are not "entitled" to opinions formed in ignorance. And are they really entitled to opinions if they choose to stay uneducated about issues?

    I think I have given myself away. Yes I have a background in science. ;-)

  20. I have to agree that there is a time and place for certain opinions to be said/heard. Aside from the Hot Buttom topics that you mentioned, even down to basic catty gossip has a right time and place, and sometimes it doesn't even deserve that. I can't stand people who tell me what they think of so-and-so's awful hair cut or who slept with who - that's not my business, and it's certainly not the gossiper's either.

    I'm a new blogger, and the one topic that hit home with me was Buying American Made - I know you read E-Tells-Tales, her story about the market closing, is the same story time and time again these days, including the story of my family, and in terms of Hot Button topics, this is a topic that I feel is OK to bring up on my blog. I'm American and I want to support the American way.

    That all being said, I want to read a blog that has depth, and emotion - not someone who's just talking about clothes and the color of their kitchen. There has to be a balance of conversation topic and preaching...tell us what you believe, but be open to discussion, and never tell someone they are wrong because you disagree.

  21. i get really political on twitter and facebook, less so much on my blog (but i do get political there, too). my opinion is that if you feel strongly about something, you have to talk about it. because no problem was ever solved by silence.

    that being said, i try to understand other people's opinions on the same topics that i discuss. that doesn't mean i will ever change my MIND, but i can be the person who agrees to disagree.

  22. I definitely am one to hold my opinions in because I don't want to upset people, and honestly, I don't like how stressed out it can make people (especially with politics). But I am trying to be more assertive lately, especially when it comes to things that I feel super strongly about (like women's self image, demeaning media portrayals of how women should be) or when it comes to people who directly offend me or insult me. In the past, if someone made a comment to me that was rude, I'd say nothing! There's that whole, turn the other cheek mentality. I don't think Jesus asks us to be mean to ourselves in the process of trying to love others openly.

  23. I definitely am one to hold my opinions in because I don't want to upset people, and honestly, I don't like how stressed out it can make people (especially with politics). But I am trying to be more assertive lately, especially when it comes to things that I feel super strongly about (like women's self image, demeaning media portrayals of how women should be) or when it comes to people who directly offend me or insult me. In the past, if someone made a comment to me that was rude, I'd say nothing! There's that whole, turn the other cheek mentality. I don't think Jesus asks us to be mean to ourselves in the process of trying to love others openly.

  24. I, too, am (sometimes obnoxiously) passionate over my beliefs, but tend to steer clear of speaking about them on my blog. my reason for doing so, is so they aren't disrespected by my inability to express my feelings accurately. however, because of this, I have been accused of being emotionless & careless about worldy strife... which is unfortunate.

  25. I like this post. a lot. Its things i have thought about as well. I have actually stopped reading certain blogs because i got so over the "this is my opinion and im going to throw it in your face in a very abrasive way and you can suck it if you dont like it" and then continue to call everyone who doesnt believe what they do politically or religiously, "morons" i kid you not. actual quotes. This happened with a blogger i actually liked once as a person...but it seemed like she dug being controversial more than she did being respectful of others and people she called blog friends. So off putting. There is a time and a place to talk politics and religion..there is also a way to do it so that you dont offend people who may think differently...yes this is our blog, and we can say what we want, but does that mean we have to be mean? or rude? or controversial just for the sake of being controversial? I think you can say "hey i do attachment parenting because its what works for me" kinda like you just did, and people would respect you for it. And some things, to me, are faith and religion. I learned the hard way that it is better to keep those things close to your heart.

    love you bridge and the way you approach life and your blog.


  26. Great post! I think the most important thing is *how* you talk about the topic, no matter what it is. If you start off, "Hey, I want to have a discussion," and you come at it from a point of humility, then you can't go wrong--even if you end up with a couple of crazies. I think that goes for blogs as well as verbal conversations. I guess my main question, Bridget, would be, do you avoid having conversations in person for the reasons you mentioned, or does this apply only to your blog? Just curious...

    I think you have a great way of making your blogs feel like a discussion rather than a soapbox; I always get the impression that you want to listen to your readers and not that you're using a blog post because you feel like you need to defend yourself or as some kind of platform. (p.s. First time commenter, reader for the last year! woo hoo!)

  27. Since we all have a choice to come to your blog & read or not read, and it's our choice to keep coming back or not, and since you aren't some sort of public figure with an agenda.... I think whatever you wanna say, you get to say. :-) I think bloggers who really voice controversial opinions are brave! Disagreeing is the spice of life. My grandpa says "That's why Baskin Robins has 31 different flavors..."

  28. oh man, i love you. seriously, i feel the SAME freakin' way. there are always a handful of ppl that are always posting their damn opinions on facebook (why?) because apparently we all care about their opinion (that was also given to them by divine intervention, of course.)

    i dont think you're wishy washy at all. when you want to share something, you share it!

    i feel the same way about religion too. and i love jesus, too, which is so cool because i rarely meet ppl that feel similarly as i do.

  29. I can relate to this. I was a political science major and people are often surprised that I don't state my opinion more. It's not that I'm not passionate. In fact my passion is one reason I don't say anything. I don't want to offend someone or come off as a know it all or not open to the opinions of others. I also feel that most people have their opinion, so me shouting out mine isn't going to change others.

    Most of my friends are very conservative (I live in the south). I happen to view things differently than them based on my life experiences. I learned early on to not say things about politics after I was introduced to a stranger by one of them as, "My liberal friend Michelle." Seriously!

    I say, just post what you feel is right for you!

  30. I appreciate hearing about the controversial topics, personally. If I don't agree it gives me something new to think about, and I see no harm in that. I feel that blogs that are too careful to never post thought-provoking topics become boring.

  31. @hayley, i like your grandpa's saying :)

    @lauren nicole, i think i have these conversations way more in person than on my blog -- but even then, i have them more often when specifically asked my opinion. though, i'm sure i've offered it without being asked too!

  32. @chelsea, i think i'm with you. my blog just isn't one of THOSE type of blogs. i've got my email there if someone has a specific question (and i've had those sorts of emails before) but beyond that... my blog just isn't the place!! (and you know i loved your serious post!)

  33. I couldn't agree more! I personally dislike people who use there cyber spaces to overly express their opinions. I too have opinions, but I think that so much gets lost in translation when people use their cyber "soapboxes" that it's better to leave opinions to face to face. I think that a lot of people become more overt when they type and are more opinionated because their is no one to hold them immediately responsible for their thoughts; if ever.

  34. Girl I feel this so so much.

    I don't think you are wishy washy. I think you are classy. Those kind of things are better talked about one on one for sure. The only time I talk about faith is when it is personal and natural.

  35. There are *some* political things that I share on my blog *sometimes*- but by political I don't mean, "Oh! Let's talk about which side you're on!" Because let's face it- both are working for the same corporations anyway...

    Instead, I get ramped up about stuff regarding farming and education(like Monsanto and public school for example.) I used to get all heated about plenty of other topics (medicine, vaccinations, etc.) but I feel like until I have lived it, my opinions are probably gonna change. I might as well keep them to myself until they're well-formed.

  36. ...but yeah, I feel ya on the whole reprimanding yourself for being too authoritative thing. That's why I rarely talk "hot-button topics" unless it's in the company of friends and if it's on my blog, I just quietly sneak a link in here or there and let the reader form his or her own judgment.

    (Although, ow that I think of it, it's funny that you'd post this a week after I posted something asking readers how they felt about hunting for food out of season on your own property. I think that's the first time I've EVER spoken out about something like that at length- really, I was just asking rather than ranting though.) Okay, enough comments here. Glad you posted this. :)

  37. i'd love to hear what you think about all those topics!
    i love opinionated people!!
    as long as they clearly state it's their opinion and your opinion is okay too.

  38. I love this post. I am an extreme Christian conservative (Mormon) yet I never post anything about it on my blog, twitter, or Facebook walls. I don't think I'm wishy washy because I'm keeping it to myself. My faith in Christ is mine and if people want to hear it, I'll share it happily and with a warmed heart.

    You aren't a sell out. I think these days people are being persecuted for having beliefs, whatever they are. There are so many trolls out there that those who finally have the guts to speak out tend to be annoying and tactless. It's a shame because you are so right in that there are people who need to be heard but are scared to do so.

    ps... I ate Chik-Fil-A last weekend and it was delicious. Why? Because it tastes good, end of story.

  39. I totally agree that too many people are forcing their opinions on others and while I do have an opinion on many things, I'm not willing to start a battleground over it. It just seems exhausting all the effort people put into holding their opinions on a heirarchy and don't even consider the opposing viewpoint so, no, I like people who keep it to themselves, or atleast in the blogging world. If I were to have a face to face, sincere conversation with someone, I think that is the right place to be honest.

  40. I don't blog but my Facebook has been swarmed with the Chik-Fil-A thing, which wouldn't be a big deal if people weren't using the whole debate to spread so. much. hate.

    I finally couldn't stand it anymore and posted my two cents on my status. Which is saying a lot because I haven't updated my status since... I can't even remember.

  41. I seem to remember a time when I was 19 or so when I thought I knew everything, including, but not limited to: just whom my roommate should date?!?! Perhaps you have experience with that?!?! (What up Broms.) I have come to loathe those type of people: people who think the world is black and white. I don't know if it's more that I dislike them or that feel sorry for them. Or, both.

    I would much rather have a conversation with someone who disagrees with me about something (politically, religiously, etc) but has taken the time to research the topic and feels strongly about it, rather than talk with someone who agrees with me, but can't back up what they believe. They believe it because they were told to? Because their parents or significant other does?

    My godmother is a lesbian, she's Jewish, and from a different political party. I couldn't love and celebrate her more. She teaches me a lot more about LOVE than the average person.

    This whole Chik-fil-a or however you spell it has made me really frustrated. First of SYRIA? Syria's civil war is happening and deserves more attention.

    Bridge, I think your voice is authentic and I don't think you're ever disrespectful on your blog.

  42. I think it's strange that you, and other people, seem so concerned with people's affiliation or lack there of with chik fil a. I think it's a good thing when something, anything, sparks conversation or deep, thoughtful reflection. I think it's good to know where you stand on an issue - whether ethical or political - so that if you become part of a decision making process you know what jives with your values and what doesn't. And I think it's important to challenge where other people stand on an issue that doesn't seem to make sense to you. It can lead to compromise, reflection, even a change of opinion. Especially when an issue is important to someone, I want to hear their voice.

    I didn't have a status about Chik Fil A andI haven't written a blog post but i do regularly post articles of interest on social media and engaged in conversations about Chik Fil A with people who chose to put up statuses I disagreed with. I do that in face to face interactions to, because if nothing else I strive to live a life where I am consistent and where I can live my values.


talk to me.

(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)


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