Note! Very important note! What follows does not reflect my actual opinion on any of these subjects. This is me trying to understand other people’s viewpoints (read: crazy internet comment rants) to show how most of the opinions we form are based upon the most arbitrary of platforms. Vast expanses of sarcasm and spicy words lie ahead.
1.) If you’re fat, you are a lazy slob who’s going to die young. If you’re thin, you’re a vain, health-obsessed clone who’s bought into our culture’s obsession with thinness.
2.) If you sleep with him, you’re a slut. If you don’t sleep with him, you’re a . . . well, slut, but this time because you’re giving sex to men who aren’t him and that’s totally unfair. (Whether you actually are having sex with other men or not is irrelevant, you just are.)
3.) If you’re progressive/liberal, you are only into causes that are “trendy” and have no respect for your elders. If you’re traditional/conservative, you’re a racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, “every other ‘-ist’ one can think of” stick-in-the-mud.
4.) If you’re female and you’re girly, you’re not trying hard enough to aspire to feminist ideals. If you’re female and you’re not girly, you’re subliminally saying that feminine things are “less than” masculine things and that’s sexist, ya sexist.
5.) If you’re male and you’re masculine, you’re misogynistic. And yet, definitely into the ladies that you hate, because “bears” aren’t a thing. If you’re a sensitive or feminist male, you’re only sensitive to click with women and prove your masculinity.
6.) If you want to get married, you’re a sad, lonely person who desperately needs human companionship to feel secure. If you don’t want to get married, you’re a sad, lonely person, blah blah, tired joke about having a million cats. Everyone knows the only companionship fulfillment you’ll get is through a romantic relationship because friends aren’t a thing, I guess.
7.) If you study the arts/humanities, you think you’re better than everyone else because you’re defying society by not “being useful.” If you study the sciences, you think you’re better than everyone else because you’re smart in a field that is deemed to be hard, unlike those humanities, amirite? If you study business, you think you’re better than everyone else because you make more money than those warring arts and sciences people. God forbid someone studies something because they have a curious mind and they like and/or are good at the subject.
8.) If you’re extroverted, you’re loud and annoying and you try to get up in everyone’s business. If you’re introverted, you should try to be more loud and annoying and getting up in everyone’s business.
9.) If you alter your appearance (makeup, plastic surgery, straightening your curls, etc.), you are shallow and trying too hard to fit in. If you don’t alter your appearance, you are not trying hard enough to fit in and you’re “weird for the sake of being weird.”
10.) If you say something bad about people of color, you’re racist. If you say something bad about white people, you’re reverse racist. (Reverse! Reverse! Slide to the left! Slide to the right!) Everything you ever do ever is racist. That sandwich you have—why’d you use white bread instead of brown? Racist pig.
11.) If you are religious, you have been brainwashed by other religious people. If you are not religious, you have been brainwashed by the late Christopher Hitchens and Internet neckbeards.
12.) If you go after your dreams, you’re going to face cold, hard reality and die sad. If you face cold, hard reality instead of going after your dreams, you’re going to die sad.
13.) If you are proud of who you are, you’re conceited and society should take you down a notch. If you’re insecure, just try being proud of who you are. How hard could it be?
14.) If you hate your job, quit and get a better one, no one’s making you stay in that profession. If you love your job . . . why? Everyone is supposed to hate their job.
15.) If you don’t want to have children, you’re selfish and missing out on one of the best things in life. If you do want to have children, you’re selfish because you’re straining world resources by adding more humans to an enormous population.
16.) If you’re young and career-oriented, you’ll regret being so serious when you get older. If you’re young and not career-oriented, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? You’re setting yourself up for future failure! Agh!
17.) If you don’t participate in society’s vices (drinking, sex, partying, etc.) then you think you’re better than everyone else and don’t know how to have fun. If you do, you’re a pox on society!
18.) If you still like the things you liked when you were a kid, you’re immature. If you don’t, you’re stuck-up and too serious.
Now, to be clear, there are some opinions you should listen to, such as, “I personally think wearing a thong-kini to the beach is a bad idea, Gary.” That person is trying to save you from embarrassment, which benefits you.
But in the age of the Internet we have this belief that “everyone is entitled to their opinion” and therefore everyone’s opinion has equal worth, which is frankly not true. Don’t look me in the eye and tell me I have to give an anti-vaxxer’s and a pediatrician’s opinions equal weight. Everyone may be entitled to his or her opinion . . . but not everyone is smart, or an expert. Or knows how to properly address your needs.
If you can tell that a person’s opinion is not constructive criticism and is just trying to “put you in your place” in society, you don’t have to listen to them. Hell, don’t listen to me if this article doesn’t suit your needs. People generalize and try to make other people fit into the arbitrary boxes they have created in their minds because it’s easier than regarding others as individuals with their own histories. You’re a person, not a cat. You don’t have to make yourself fit into someone else’s box.*
*I tried to fit your mom’s box last night, but it’s too loose. Hey-o!