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Essay

Seeing the same

By Samantha Loong

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Many years ago, I tried to teach my grandmother how to play "Spot the difference" in the puzzle section of a women's magazine. I thought the rules were simple and clear enough, but she kept pointing out what was the same between the two pictures. She admitted that she found that more enjoyable. That says a lot about my gran — that she preferred looking for commonalities.

There are many people in the world who spend too much time focusing on the differences between us. They like to emphasise how these differences are bad. They tap into people's prejudices and fears, and the online world makes it easier for them to find an audience. These people say things like being a particular culture, gender or race gives you permission to mistreat others.

I became aware of one such person recently — a Japanese YouTuber. I first heard about him in April, when a video he made of himself sharing his homophobic views circulated the internet. Then in May, another video of his racist views of black people in Japan made the rounds. He regularly makes videos sharing his homophobic, racist, misogynistic, misinformed views, and it worries me how many people agree with him. He records his videos in English, with sensational, attention-grabbing titles. This seems to indicate he knows that in English he can reach a wider audience. This probably helps increase his video views, and in turn his income.

Writer Baye McNeil addressed this YouTuber's views on black people in a piece in The Japan Times. I fully agree with McNeil that sending traffic to this YouTuber's videos only gives him what he wants — notoriety. He doesn't deserve your clicks or views.

What would make for better viewing is a video that came out several years ago. Titled Love Has No Labels, it was a public service announcement made by the Ad Council, an American nonprofit. It won many awards, and for good reason. I wholeheartedly recommend watching it for its much more positive, inclusive message.

It shows friends, couples and families celebrating love and friendship by dancing with and embracing each other from behind an "X-ray" screen. Instead of showing their faces and bodies, the screen showed their skeletons. When they emerged from behind the screen, the audience got to see love and friendship between people of different ages, abilities, religions, races and genders. The video demonstrated how underneath all these things, there is no difference — we're all human.

And maybe that's what my grandma was telling me — that it's easy to spot the difference, but the challenge and the satisfaction comes from seeing what's the same.

同じものを見ること

人々の違いにばかり目を向け偏見や恐怖心をあおるような発言をする人たちがいる。こうした声は特にネット上で広がりやすいが、耳を傾ける価値はあるのだろうか?

The Japan Times ST: June 15, 2018

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2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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