Taboo Topics: Sex, Politics and Religion

Taboo topicsAs a child, I was always reminded of the social etiquette that there were taboo subjects at the dinner table. The big three, of course, were sex, politics and religion. Little has changed in my mind except that my dinner table has been replaced by my blog, where I try to set the same rules. I must admit, though, that I have transgressed the polite social line on a few occasions.

When I have wandered over the line, I am immediately reminded of my folly in breaking the manners associated with polite conversation by being thumped by very vocal commenters. These three taboo subjects are probably taboo because they offer the instant possibility of a good dinner (or in my case a blog post) being wasted while the dinner guests argue their immovable points of view for hours on end.

There is just no getting away from the fact that these three subjects involve people’s firm beliefs, and there is no way they will ever move from them. So therein lies the oddity of it all. No one will ever change their views, so why the need to argue about them? No one will ever take an ounce of notice of you if they begin by disagreeing with you. I suppose the same could be said for football, too.

Anyway, this was not the main point of my post. The reason I started thinking about this was after scanning a whole list of social media profiles. Amazing what people say about themselves. Some are funny, some academic, some quite boring and others, well, there are always idiots in every crowd. However, there were three categories of social media profiles that really caught my attention by the sheer quantity of them. Political persuasion, religious belief, and sexual preference slapped front and centre. Yup, the big three social no-nos from the dinner table.

Quite honestly, I really don’t want to know what you do in the privacy of your bedroom or the privacy of a voting booth, and I have absolutely no interest whatsoever that you are atheist, Christian, Muslim or a card-carrying Scientologist. Surely there must be far more interesting aspects to these people other than the three taboos?

Well, there we go. I supposed I’ll get thumped now.

10 thoughts on “Taboo Topics: Sex, Politics and Religion”

  1. “Surely there must be far more interesting aspects to these people other than the three taboos?”

    Maybe not….

  2. Andrew Claymore

    If it’s a thumping you’re looking for, you’ll need to ramp up the rhetoric. I saw a comment in Joe Konrath’s blog a couple of weeks ago where he stated that creationism was just wrong, period. It didn’t have much to do with the post topic but it sure drew a lot of heat, and blog traffic.

    I agree that it’s an odd forum for the taboo views. It’s like walking around a picnic introducing yourself as a lesbian or, gasp, a republican…

    People don’t do that in real life but seem to think it makes sense for social media.

  3. Andrew: :People don’t do that in real life but seem to think it makes sense for social media.”

    We hang out with very different people! I’m always running into someone who can’t wait to tell me their opinion of the president, or quote scripture, or point out their distaste for whatever group irks them most.

    Easier on social media? Yes, absolutely, with the easy anonymity and the trigger-quick response. Too often the diplomacy filter or the lessons of childhood are lost in that moment when an easy post or response is only a click away. Hey, it’ll increase site traffic, who cares?

    I made a conscious decision two years ago to avoid those taboos on my blog. Like Derek, I’m not always successful, but I try. There’s enough divisiveness and negative energy in the world without my adding to it.

  4. Rachael Kvapil

    Don’t believe any subject I taboo so long as it is discussed with a purpose. If it doesn’t pertain to the situation then I don’t wanna know and even then I may reach a point when I hold out my had and say “TMI Baby. TMI”. I want to hear people taboo thoughts because I may find that I’ve held an incorrect viewpoint or one that hasn’t kept up with the changing tImes. I would lose a lot of clients if I made a rule about taboo topics. They LOVE to talk politics, sex, and religion even though they know I have a completely different viewpoint. No one tries to change anyone. We just exchange information.

  5. Rachael Kvapil

    And actually I know tons of people who have introduced themselves as “the Lesbian who comments on Jay’s Facebook page” or “the staunch Republican who debated your viewpoints on healthcare”. It’s just how it works nowadays and I’d rather know ahead of time what I was getting into so I don’t say or do something that creates a bigger embarrassment for everybody.

  6. oooh, Have I made it onto the idiot category? I hope so, Life’s ambition fulfilled…

    Actually, I don’t care about peoples views on the three taboos, I have my own, but it doesn’t stop me from being friendly In both cyber and real space) with even those who hold differing views. , I like a balanced argument and like the think I can hold my own without name some people do.
    I will take exception and say that peoples views DO change, either when presented with a good argument, or as a reaction to a major event (the latter being more usual). I would also say that us, the ordinary Joe public, needs to discuss these so called taboos as much as possible, because it is discussion on subjects too important not to be.

  7. I love talking about taboos, in real life mostly. Although, I do have a secret blog for intelligent discussion of, ahem, adult matters. I think serious discussion about sexuality is important, as bigotry, emotional trouble and oppression so often revolve around it.

    Still, I think that, as a blogger and Internet personality, it’s important to establish which camp you’re in. Do you talk about these things, or do you not? Once you decide, it’s best (for intelligent conversation and traffic) to stick to your brand.

    I do think that in the appropriate environment, discussion of taboos is a good idea. I know my ideas have been changed through it. In this vein, these topics should be allowed in environments where brains are being molded, aka, college classrooms and the like. Make them think about these things before they’re too ‘set in their ways’.

    Oh, and what about the taboo subject of death? Folks don’t always like to talk about that one either. Incidentally, it’s one of my faves;)

  8. I must admit I agree with Katie: there should be places where you can discuss these taboos and it definitely makes sense to do that early to set some openmindedness (well I think this word does not exist but alas I just invented it) in place. There is nothing worse than a taboo because it keeps difficult and unfair matters like abuse and domestic violence for instance under the carpet and victims in their difficult situations. I would agree though not to do that at the dinner table – I prefer to eat in peace :-).

  9. I have to agree with most of what has been said here. I have my own viewpoints, but I love to sit and listen to other viewpoints. There maybe a side of the coin I do not know, I get an opportunity to know people better, and I am highly interested in human behaviors and what makes people tick. Most of these three taboos drives people’s decisions to act/react and how. I think these things can be discussed openly without heated discussions or arguments – however – what separates the arguments from the open exchange of ideas is maturity. If people are immature and unwilling to understand that someone is totally different than them, it makes for a really bad scene. In today’s world we, as society, believe in individuality – yet when someone is different they are blasted because they are not the same. Illogical and emotionally reactive, in my honest opinion. Never the less, taboo subjects have a time and a place to be discussed and it’s not at the dinner table .. unless of course you are in good, mature company – then I see nothing wrong with the conversation. (Key word here – conversation)

  10. Good post. It seems to me that the internet has grown so fast that there is no common concensus on what is acceptable or not. Saying that, I do beleive in open discussion of ‘taboo’ subjects aslong as it is with the purpose of furthering understanding of those topics.

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