Having Unpopular Opinions

Jaffa cakes are gross. Seriously what’s with Jaffa cakes? Why do people love them so much? What exactly is the good part of a Jaffa cake? The nasty cheap chocolate? The soggy spongy base that has the nerve to call itself “cake” or the putrid orange goo which I doubt has ever seen anything slightly resembling an orange. I’ve lost you, haven’t I?

 Yes, I do understand that Jaffa cakes are a thing that almost everybody loves but I personally would rather put a dirty sock in my mouth than a Jaffa cake.

 I must confess that I have probably not tried one in more than 20 years now but the thought of trying one now makes my mouth go all dry and my stomach queasy. It’s strange because there are plenty of other foods from my childhood that I hated back then that I can’t get enough of now. Olives for example. I hated olives as a kid. I think maybe because they were small and spheroid and came in 2 distinct colours, green and black just like grapes. But they couldn’t taste any more different than grapes. It must have taken until my mid 20’s to realise that olives were delicious and just like grapes, the green ones are the best.

So why can’t I face giving Jaffa cakes another go?

 I saw this thing on Facebook a few weeks ago. It was basically a comment thread inviting people to write down three unpopular opinions they hold for all the world to see. It also encouraged others to 'like' or use the 'angry face' to signify if they agreed or disagreed with the commenter. I don't usually pay much attention to these social media games but this one intrigued me as I can point to quite a few unpopular opinions I have. For example. I think football literally lowers your IQ while you are watching it, I think Apple are a morally bankrupt company pedalling pretentious junk to anyone who falls into their reality distortion field, and I think London is a total hole full of mostly awful people where everything costs 3 times more than it should. I had a few people agree with me, especially about football but mostly responses were negative and it just depressed me and made me feel a bit isolated from the rest of society. What was I expecting to happen?

 Please believe me, I am not the sort of person who holds unpopular opinions as some sort affectation to try and make me seem different and interesting; at least I really hope I am not! I think that I just have a real problem with things that I deem as overrated and that’s why I can’t give Jaffa cakes another try.

 Contrastingly I also have a real affection for underrated things like my adopted hometown of Birmingham, which everybody down south, where I grew up, thinks is a decaying industrial wasteland; fixing something that’s broken rather than replace it, as I discussed in my last post; and although I love them both I’ll take Star Trek over Star Wars every time if I had to choose. That one isn’t just about being underrated, I could write an entire blog just about that but I really don’t want to be “that guy”.

 I can be quite militant about my opinions as well and I think I can sometimes offend people with the passion and zeal in which I hate the thing they hold dear. Or I can be quite obnoxious about how they should change their minds about Birmingham. Though I think I have finally convinced my family of this fact as they do tend to visit me more than they used to. It is like I am trying to make some kind of statement about it and if I have offended you I do apologise, please keep reading.

 I believe that there is a part of my brain that sees a misbalance in the world and is desperate to try and correct it. But as I am only one man and my influence is limited I must, therefore, exaggerate and amplify my intensity so I can add as much weight to the scales as I possibly can. Maybe this way I can tip them more towards what I consider to be equilibrium.

 I have begun to wonder however if this is really the best way to convince people of my opinions. Is insulting someone to their face or making a snide remark thinly disguised as a joke the way to win people over to my side of the seesaw? Probably not actually.

 I have become like those bloody annoying people in town who yell bible verses and damnation at everybody. I am quite sure that they, like me, think they are doing some kind of public service and that they are saving the people by the score by disturbing them from their shopping to consider the nature of their sin. But I highly doubt this is the case. I would wager for every person they convince to follow Jesus another thousand people walk away and decide that Christians are clearly completely mental and should be steered well clear of. And I really can’t blame the shoppers for thinking that.

 How is that going to convince anybody of anything anyway? That is not how you win people over. If you want to change someone’s mind you must earn a place at their table first. You should gain from them the authority to speak to them and be listened to. Christians, sadly need to work harder at this than most people because we have an awful lot of apologising to do first.

 I became a Christian relatively late in life when I was 22 and I can tell you that you do not go from being an atheist to a church-going Christian while strolling down New Street being yelled at through a shitty speaker system that they clearly don’t know how to work.

 The way they “got me”, the Christians I mean, was basically through love. I was loved and accepted as I was and I was shown day by day what it looked like to be a follower of Jesus. Sure, they would talk to me about it but never in a confrontational or pushy way. There was never any condescension and there didn't really seem to be any agenda at all. They were just being who they were. But truly it was the actions of these Christians and the way they loved and cared for other people that won me over and not very much to do with their words at all. They shattered my illusions of the shouty judgmental Christian on a soapbox and so got to know me in return. As we grew closer they earned the right to speak into my life and slowly I began to see a better way to live. That, I honestly believe, is the only way to do it. Through love.

 I do feel for those guys on the soapboxes though. Their intentions are good I suppose and I know what it feels like to have something awesome to say but not know quite how to say it. I guess the bible is quite underrated as well. Even by me, I must confess. They just have an insatiable need to share what they have learned but totally miss the mark and completely misunderstand their audience and therefore they just add more weight to the apathetic side of the scale and make the whole thing harder for the rest of us. So, if you happen to be one of those people, please stop it.

 I’m still not going to get an iPhone and I will probably never try another Jaffa cake for as long as I live, but that’s ok. They are just not for me. I do always Ask my friend Tom how Arsenal are doing when I see him (not good, apparently) and I would like to visit my sister more in London. I still don’t like these things but people I love do and that’s absolutely fine. Because at the end of the day they are not even trying to convince me to change my mind. They are perfectly happy loving what they love without my approval. And why the hell shouldn’t they?