Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't knock it until you've tried it

We're all guilty of doing it, but I have to say that one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people put down places or things that they've never actually experienced. Restaurants, schools, hobbies, and (particularly for this post) cities.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of city-bashing. There are reasons why I don't ever want to live in Salt Lake again, reasons why I'm hesitant to move back to the DC area, and reasons why I don't love El Paso 100 percent of the time, but those reasons are all based on experiences. I've lived in these cities and formed my opinions based on the years I spent in them. If you don't like a city after living there for several years, then you plain don't like it. Move somewhere else, end of story. If you just think you don't like a place but have never actually experienced life there (and no, a weekend trip in college doesn't count) then, in my humble opinion, you have no business telling other people that it's not a nice place to live.

In case you were wondering, this rant isn't coming out of thin air. I've now lived in El Paso long enough to form a very definite opinion about whether or not I like it (the answer is yes) and it really bothers me when I see people who have never lived here say disparaging things about it. For example, the author of a blog I read is considering a move here. A number of people replied to the post and encouraged her to move somewhere else. They didn't give reasons or personal experiences, just flat-out told her that she'd be happier elsewhere. I can't even tell you how much this bugs me.

True, if you don't like the idea of living so close to the Mexican border, El Paso may not be the city for you. If you're not willing to learn conversational Spanish, you might want to move elsewhere. If you don't like the desert, friendly people, or beautiful sunsets, this is not the city for you. These people didn't think about those things, though. Instead they made stupid, prejudicial, and flat-out wrong assumptions about El Paso.

In the interest of full disclosure, I made a lot of those same assumptions before our move. I didn't think I would like El Paso, didn't think I'd be able to find a job without learning Spanish, and didn't think I'd ever feel at home here. I was wrong. It's a mistake that I won't be making again, and one that I wish more people would stop committing.


Anonymous said...

I just found your blog. I hate to have my first comment be semi-negative, but I know which post you were talking about and the author was asking for opinions. I'm glad you like where you live so much, but people are entitled to their opinion. (And no, I'm not one who had a negative opinion about El Paso... I've never been there.)

The comments on the post you're referring to were meant to support the author. Instead of bashing people's right to have an opinion, I wish you would have stated all the great things about El Paso. State your opinion. Because you're entitled to that, too.

Sorry to leave a comment like this my first time here. I'm not a troll, honestly. It's just that the post you're referring to is one of my best blog friends. And many of the comments came from people I care about and their opinions would have been important to me. Your post just raised my defensive hackles.

C said...

If you really do know what blog I'm referring to, Margaret, you'll know that in the comments I did only post positive things about El Paso and in no way bashed anyone--blogger or commenter. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but my point was that when you give someone advice, it's always a good idea to make sure you actually know what you're talking about first.