Curling. Eating hot sauce with every meal. Wearing cargo shorts. Getting regular manicures. If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others, go ahead.
This is a straightforward concept, but it’s hard for some people to grasp. If someone is doing something that makes them happy and isn’t harming anyone, then let them do it without any judgment.
We all like to think that we’re tolerant. We’re pursuing a post-secondary education and expanding our knowledge of the world around us. We live in Canada, often touted as one of the most tolerant nations in the world.
We should use the information we’ve gained in school to form opinions and figure out where our interests lie. But we seem to spend a lot of time judging each other for what we enjoy.
Ideally, we can all do what we want and not worry about the opinions of others. But people shouldn’t be asked to deal with public condemnation or scorn just for having a “weird” hobby. I like to play hula hoop and you like to lift weights. We both do our own thing and we’re both happy.
Issues arise when I tell you that lifting weights is for stupid gym bros or when you tell me that hula hooping isn’t real exercise. Playing badminton isn’t causing any problems. Neither is lifting weights. The problem is when we can’t let each other be happy with our own choices.
Something like Otafest — a one-day festival on Nov. 29 that promotes Japanese art, culture and media — is out of the ordinary, but it’s harmless. Dressing up as your favourite anime character might not be how you choose to spend the weekend, but that doesn’t mean people who enjoy it should be subject to your judgment or ridicule.
Condemning another person for taking interest in something that makes them happy is like grabbing an ice cream cone from a small child and throwing it onto the ground because it’s pistachio flavoured and you don’t like nuts.
Some people are big on the holiday season. They love putting up decorations, making snow angels, baking gingerbread cookies and listening to Christmas music — starting on the first of November. I’m one of those people. It gets me through finals and helps me cope with the snow and cold.
No one is forced to listen to the Michael Bublé Christmas album with me. I’m not making anyone help me string up lights in my room. If you don’t like the holidays, we can definitely talk about something else. But some people who don’t like Christmas feel the need to make sure I also don’t like Christmas.
There’s nothing wrong with not liking Christmas. Maybe you celebrate a different holiday, or it’s not really your thing. But there is something wrong with trying to take the enjoyment out of a holiday for other people. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean other people are obligated to feel the same.
Likewise, it’s awful to try and force those interests and beliefs on people who already have their own. The differences between people is rarely a moral issue. Liking Christmas isn’t a moral debate over right or wrong. It’s a conversation about how people prefer to spend their winter holidays.
What happens to be cool is subjective. It depends on culture and what you and your friends like to do. Condemning people for liking “uncool” things like anime or stamp collecting only reveals how insecure you are about your own hobbies.
The validity of a hobby doesn’t depend on how many people like it. There’s nothing wrong with liking everyone’s favourite song and there’s nothing wrong with being the only person in your friend group who’s heard of it.
Trends are often cyclical. What is cool now might be out of style later. More than that, other people’s hobbies don’t really affect you that much.
The world would be a lot more dull if everyone dressed the same way and liked the same things. The things we share should be basic values, like respect and tolerance.
What we have in common doesn’t need to extend to whatever happens to be cool or trendy at the time. And if you enjoy something that everyone else does, there’s nothing wrong with joining in on the fun.
If we were really secure in what made us happy, we wouldn’t feel the need to make others conform to our own likes and dislikes.
I’m not going to force feed you an eggnog latte. I have no plans to walk through MacHall throwing Christmas ornaments at people. I’m not causing any harm, so let me enjoy the holiday. Let others enjoy their own flavour of fun too.
Katy Atherholt, Gauntlet Editorial Board