I have recently done a few units that touched on philosophy and the idea of some things being 'sacred' while others are 'fair-game', and that has led to my thought processes being flipped on their head a little bit. If someone were to ask me where to draw the line on what to joke about and what not to, I would find it difficult to answer. Originally, I would probably have said that joking about someone's religion, race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation would be obvious starting points of what NOT to do. But how far do we take that? Many people would find joking about age offensive, some would find jokes about social or financial class to be inappropriate, and what about disabilities?
There are those in the world that would say that we can't joke about anything any more for fear of insulting someone or being deemed 'socially inappropriate'.
I like to think that I am a fairly open-minded person, but I know that I still engage with a lot of very basic (and even upsetting) stereotypical behaviour - that is, I still make snap judgements about people based on really wide generalisations. Much of this is social conditioning mixed with a healthy dose of some sort of mental/thought reflex, but I can't help thinking that I continue to believe in certain stereotypes because they serve me well.
And that's not to say that I, for example, make friends with Asians and force them to do my homework because I presume they're smarter than me. It is more that, without making these vast generalisations, I fear that I would lose my understanding of what my place is in the world, and be unable to function.
Through studying Psychology, I learnt that we tend to 'group' people together so that we can understand how everyone fits into the world around us, and how we fit into that world. I find this easiest to understand by thinking of it like we're in some big high school and we understand that over there are the kids who do drugs and generally don't care about school, over there are the nerds, over there are the musicians, etc., etc. We slowly understand that there are exceptions to these rules and groupings, but it only serves to slightly alter our initial perceptions, unless we get to know everyone intimately.
It is extremely bothersome that we put people into certain boxes so that we can grasp the world's limits a bit better, but it also helps us to move through the world without having to stop and ponder each individual's motivation, beliefs, hobbies, and drives. Because if we did that for everyone, it would mean our brain would be attempting to store too many bits of information inside our heads, and we would eventually be overloaded, right?
The thing is, I'm just not so sure any more.
I might want to consider myself open-minded, and some people who know me might argue for the affirmative, but how can I really know? I have not been confronted by all the different exceptions to the supposed 'rules' that I have set (and been set for me during my growth) in my brain. I know that I still tense up around "youths" of a certain age and volume level because I assume that they mean me harm. Does this reaction help me in 'surviving' what I deem to be a threat, or does it hinder me in making genuine connections with people I don't know? I don't really expect to ever find many answers for questions like these. I guess I just hope that, if I do something wrong, I will have the strength to apologise (and mean it) and continue trying to be as open-minded as possible.
Love to all who read.
Please note: the below videos are not mine. Please visit the respective youtube pages (by clicking on the video itself) to find out more about the people who made them :)