That’s what I told my stepson one day, driving him and his sister to a school rollerskate party.
I was talking about music on that particular day, because his sister had asked us to put on Pandora — which I did. The last-played station was JoJo Siwa, because a few days prior, my stepdaughter and I had gone for a run, and that’s what she’d asked to listen to.
JoJo is, apparently, big with elementary-school-aged girls.
And definitely not big with their middle-school-aged brothers.
As the song started playing, my stepson groaned, rolled his eyes, and instantly asked me to change the station. “This is awful music,” was the summary of his expression.
Is it, though? I thought. Is it awful music? He might not like it personally, and that’s totally fine — he doesn’t have to like it — but he also doesn’t have to disparage it because someone else does.
This is his little sister. She’s allowed to like what she likes, and she doesn’t have to apologize to him, or her parents, or me, for liking it.
If it isn’t hurting her (and it isn’t — JoJo is almost entirely uplifting and positive messages), and it isn’t hurting anyone else, then why put it down?
It isn’t just him, though. It’s everywhere in our society. People all the time call things (and people) names because it makes them feel “cool.”
I like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, for example. (And confession: I didn’t even listen to them when they were cool, I listened to them about seven or eight years later.)
I wasn’t cool. (And I’m still not.)
But I liked their music. (And I still do.)
You don’t have to. You like what you like. And as long as it isn’t hurting you or others, go right ahead.
My husband loves Pearl Jam. Honestly, I can’t stand them. I can’t understand the lyrics. I don’t care for the music. But I don’t put him down for liking it.
This isn’t just about music, either — though in this case, music is an easy example.
Here’s another quick one: Geography.
Two people in my family used to take particular joy in making fun of Boston because they grew up in New York City — and [insert sarcastic voice here] NYC is SO much “bigger and better” than Boston. And to be honest, even though I never told them, it bothered me.
(Personally, I prefer Providence over BOTH those cities, specifically BECAUSE it’s small and I don’t feel like I’m drowning when I’m there.)
Just because something isn’t where you’re originally from (your city, your country, your race) — or even statistically the biggest — doesn’t mean everything else is bad.
Why is it cool to hate? Why can’t we unite over things we LIKE, rather than try to prove we’re cool because we HATE the same thing?
Everyone’s allowed to like their own thing. Even if, and sometimes especially if, it makes them unique.
Be kind, folks. Whether that’s a 12-year-old to his little sister, or a full-grown adult to literally anyone else (come on, guys, we’re adults here, we’re better than that) — give everyone space to be themselves.