something i come across often online is the assumption that all people are speaking from the same context as you. i was reminded of this recently when somebody shared a link to a website selling some wares & another person replied that it was very expensive - but it wasn't. the link was to something being sold in taiwan & thus in taiwanese dollars, but the person who replied had assumed it was in american dollars.
as somebody who has never really been part of a majority ever since i emigrated from my birth country when i was still very young, this bewilders me. how can people assume that the internet, which is full of so many people from around the world, is going to always reflect their own perceptions? i've never had the luxury of being able to assume that somebody i don't know will be similar to me because most of the times, it is not going to be true.
i think this is part of why it can be so hard for people who are part of the majority to understand different minorities though. for me, i by default will assume that people have different experiences, because most of the population around me is living a very different experience from me. but if you are part of the majority, this isn't the case - & i am still thinking on what i believe is the best way to help people overcome this hurdle.
for me it's a particular pickle because depending on what backgrounds people have they will assume different things about me. the thing is, i don't want to correct people most of the time, because correcting people forces me to share personal information online that i don't really want to. i don't feel like i am responsible for what people falsely assume me to be, but at the same time, i am the one affected, so if i don't correct them, these false assumptions will only continue.
things people assume about me that are wrong:
- because i speak japanese & talk about my life in japan, i'm japanese: no, i'm not. i have never said i am. i have three different passports and none of them is from japan. language ethnocentrism is bad & i wish people would stop it.
- if i'm not japanese, i must be white: i've had people accuse me of secretly being white before for exactly this reason, but this is just silly. if you think only japanese people & white people live in japan, you are sorely mistaken.
- i'm ace/aro so i can't have a partner: yes i am ace/aro, but i have lived with a partner for over five years now & we are doing just fine. i had an ex-friend send a whole essay to me about how i somehow betrayed them by not fitting into their misguided preconception of how ace/aro people should live & it sucked.
i could go on & on because people have made the wildest assumptions about me just from what i've posted online (i'm not going to post the more harmful ones because i don't think sharing bigotry is helpful), but i feel like most of these assumptions generally come from people who think 'because i am XXX, if i see somebody online who is also XXX, we must share all the same experiences' or 'i have heard of one XXX person who is (stereotype), so all XXX people must be (stereotype)'.
for a long time i couldn't understand how people could just believe these preconceptions of theirs had to be correct - but then i realised that was because i wasn't thinking from a majority perspective. while i've never been able to assume that because a person speaks a language it means they belong to a specific country (because i myself speak multiple different languages not always connected to the country i currently lived in), for somebody who for example lives in japan & only speaks japanese & only knows japanese speakers who are japanese citizens, from their perspective, assuming that people who speak japanese in japan who 'look' japanese (this is another issue wherein only people who 'look' japanese - that is east asian ish - are assumed to be japanese, even though you'll have japanese people with different backgrounds) are japanese like they are can be logical.
what does this mean for those of us who suffer from these assumptions though? we bear the burden of always having to correct people, not knowing whether correcting them will make us more vulnerable (i have had people immediately change their attitudes around me after finding out my ethnicity, only to then change their attitudes again after finding out one of my nationalities). we are expected to work in a system where people assume us to be one way even though the conditions they live under are very different than the conditions we toil through. trying to clear up assumptions often just results in worse situations for us.
(as a bit of a detour, i remember a friend telling me about this movement in english young adult literature called #ownvoices which was meant to promote diversity/inclusion but ended up in some cases forcing creators to out themselves to prove their stories were 'authentic' & this is exactly the sort of situation i don't want to be forced into.)
i don't even really know if i want to share this much information about myself here because i know it will only cause people to make more asusmptions - like 'you're probably from here then' or 'i guess you're xxx race' or 'maybe you're not really ace/aro then' - but the point i'm trying to make here is that these assumptions suck! stop assuming! i don't have a good conclusion to this since it's just something that's been on my mind for a while, but if you've read all the way here & have assumed stuff like this about me or other people you know before, i hope you'll consider thinking about why you care so much about labelling other people & what that says about you & your own connection to your identity.