So, yesterday, as some of you may or may not have noticed I got into something of a heated debate with fellow blogger Jacqui of Couch Avenue concerning the post I made about the complete and unquestionable racism which some Kuwaitis display by thinking that they, somehow, are superior to others due to their racial, a9eel lineage.
Or, rather, we debated my right, as an explicitly non-Kuwaiti blogger, to point out this racism (which we both agree on).
I was honestly very deeply disturbed (and a little hurt) by the words that were used against me, basically telling me that I should censor my thoughts and my experiences and my complete right to share them for the sole reason of the fact that I am not Kuwaiti. I was told that ‘if I didn’t like Kuwait’ (something that I have never said or even hinted at) that I should leave. That I will, no matter what, never really belong in Kuwait and that I am, regardless of how much care and devotion I put into Kuwait or even the blogosphere, but a mere visitor. I’ve always been very careful to verify my words as much as I can with some kind of prior evidence, to show that I’m not speaking from a place of hate or ignorance but a place of concern and foresight. Unfortunately, for Jacqui, despite my best efforts to prove the contrary, I still “know nothing.” All the while Jacqui, with all due respect, does not know me well at all and has no idea what I “know” and don’t “know.” But I’m assuming that wasn’t really her point behind that argument: my guess is she said that as a way of polarizing me and other non-Kuwaitis. As a way of saying that no matter how valid your points may be, expat, you and your voice simply don’t matter as much when it comes to the real issues in Kuwait. (Jacqui is always more than welcome to correct me and my assumption.)
Of course, I don’t believe or agree with any of the things that were said to me because I know that I have never had a malicious intent in any of the blog posts that I’ve made about Kuwait or anything else. I know that plenty of Kuwaiti people support and recognize everyone’s right and responsibility–expat or citizen–to comment, discuss, criticize and help weed out the bad so that we can all focus on making Kuwait good (and I really thank those of you who have reached out to me to say so). This post isn’t really about my discussion with Jacqui–it really isn’t. I’m only using it as an example of something else and something I actually want to see more of (kinda).
Y’see as disturbed as I was by Jacqui’s comments, I also have to say that I was really quite refreshed by them as well. And I mean that genuinely and without a shred of my regular, italicized sarcasm (I swear!).
Because, the reality is that the Kuwaiti blogosphere would be so much better off if it nurtured a marketplace of ideas and opinions which are freely exposed and shared without any barriers or preconceived notions of what bloggers “can” and “should” talk about. Where we can speak our minds freely about any topic we choose and discuss how, in the end, we all may see it differently or from different perspectives. I want the blogosphere to be a place where we don’t have to stoop to passive aggressiveness where we mention things vaguely and ironically, or where we even start to discuss specific blogger’s antics with everyone except the specific blogger. These things have happened to me personally in the short time that I’ve been a blogger and I was basically just told “Oh, that’s just bloggers.”
But nope. Sorry. I don’t accept that. Because I respect the Kuwaiti blogosphere and I respect its members even the ones that, in many cases, I am diametrically opposed to. And making the blogosphere seem like a society of specific ‘clubs’ and fake niceties is not respect.
What Jacqui did was respect.
By publicly and directly coming to me and voicing her opinions about me, my blog, and everything else that entails, on a certain level, she respected me as a fellow blogger who shares her blogosphere as she does mine. Even when I am completely and utterly against almost everything she stated against me and at me (like the insults of calling me an inferior brained joke, for one), I still respect Jacqui.
I respect her because, unlike a few unfortunate others (who, by the way, I truly have nothing against and still happily greet when I see them and follow them on all the social networks), she came up to me and said “Owlolive, I think you’re wrong” and, in doing so, she gave me the opportunity to say “no, Jacqui, I think you’re wrong.” And in that way we can actually share different ideas and opinions, and engage in a dialog that will help the blogosphere generally and this blog specifically grow and become more diverse in its content and points of reference. We don’t need to cloister ourselves in ‘groups’ and breed this passive aggressive poison in which every passing “dear” is filled with Mean Girls type hostility. We don’t need to start ‘blogger wars’ and purposefully set out to say hurtful things to one another instead of calmly and directly speaking our minds. I have never started such a ‘blogger war’ with any of my fellow bloggers nor am I planning to ever do so.
I hope Jacqui and every other person who ever decides to comment on the blog (both here or elsewhere) knows that even when they tell me things like, “Owlolive, I think you’re wrong,” that I will always fight for their right to say that both on Owlolive.com and anywhere else (however, they have about zero right to insult me personally and baselessly). I will celebrate the right of people to disagree with me and criticize me directly and explicitly because that’s how my blog and the Kuwaiti blogosphere along with it grows. That’s how any society and culture and pretty much every human construct since the beginning of time has ever grown.
That’s how we breed a marketplace of different ideas and how we get to truth and understanding between one another as a blogging community and as a group of people who are, at the end of the day, just trying to do our best to make Kuwait better.
All my love!