Friday, April 19, 2013
So the other day I was giving a thesis on a certain book that shall remain unnamed, but shall simply be referred to as PT. The thesis was on how the book doesn't really give anything to the reader except death and violence, and therefore has a substandard quality to it as far as character development, setting, plot, etc. After reading the thesis, someone in the room made a comment that I was biased in my opinion about the book. Now I had to do a double take on that, because to me, I don't think I've ever been biased against anything...well except for paranormal romance, but I think that one is warranted. So I actually looked up the definition of bias, and you know what? It is the most ridiculous and one sided definition I have ever encountered.
The definition read something like: an unfair preference for or dislike of something? Dear god you could write a thesis paper just on that! First off, in this day and age, who say something is unfair? If someone doesn’t like what you have to say does that make it unfair? or does that person need to rethink what fair really is? Fair for who? Fair to preserve their feelings? Life isn't fair people. Spending money on an ebook only to find 120 pages of it are missing isn't fair, but do you go cry about it? Or do you go out and buy the hard copy because you really want to read the book? And what constitutes an "Unfair Preference". I can understand if it's children you are talking about, saying which one you like more. That is an unfair preference. But really, does liking something better than another make it unfair to the one left behind? I like pepsi better than coke? Does that make it unfair to coke? Is that bias? and if so, who cares? Other people like coke, let them drink it.
And what about disliking something? You know about a year ago, a friend of mine asked me why I never went to go hang out with them when they hung out with a friend of his. Not wanting to split hairs or lie, I told him: It's because I don't like your friend. He was very upset and kept asking me why I didn't like him. And to be honest, I couldn't tell him because I didn't have an answer. The guy was perfectly nice, very polite, always had a conversation to carry on. I didn't hate him, or anything silly like that, it's just that he wasn't MY friend, and I didn't like him. And to be honest, I don't regret it. I'd rather be honest about not liking something or someone, even if I don't have a reason to, than to pander to someone just for the sake of preserving the feelings of those around me.
To be honest, this definition sucks. It's pretty much the equivalent of saying that anyone with a name that starts with "S" is a devil worshiper because Satan starts with "S". It's a broad definition taking a lot of words that hurt someone’s feelings a long time ago, and so they created a word to keep people from doing it again. It actually brings to mind two different excerpts from two different books. In the Codex Alera by Jim Butcher series, the Marat people are often confused when the Alerans use a word that has multiple meanings, like lie for instance. At one point, either Kitai or her father asks, and I'm paraphrasing, "Why do you people have words that have more than one meaning, don't you have enough trouble understanding each other already?" The second one is from the recently read The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. In the book, the character Abban gives an inner monologue as to why his people forbid the eating of pork: once, their great leader in the past was poisoned with a piece of pork, and spent hours on the pot afterwards, and therefore banned the eating of it in the future. Take what you will from this, but I refuse to be held down by the definition of a word that just makes people feel better about hearing something they don't like. It's called an opinion, and if it wasn't warranted, I wouldn't be writing it.