Curiosity is such a loaded word. The very concept of it seeps into our lives in many aspects, through many different avenues from the moment our brain can conceptualise things.
John Ruskin says “Curiosity is a gift, a capacity of pleasure in knowing (1819).” We take pleasure in having the agency to choose what we want to know. That’s why online media is such a powerful thing in this era, because that’s where people turn to when they are curious. From youtube tutorials, to wikipedia pages and discussion forums. It has the capacity to satisfy your curiosity over anything.
For me, one of the ways my curiosity manifested and had such a profound impact on my life was when I started to question the things I always assumed were true. Growing up, I was exposed to things based on how it was in my community. The things I believed were shaped by people around me or the things that were said on TV.
I lived in a very asian community but grew up watching Western media and tv shows. I grew up believing fairer skin was always better and if you didn’t fit specific beauty standards you would just have to loose out in some aspects of life, that speaking english automatically meant you were smarter then those who didn’t, that anything western was assumed to be the better way of doing things. These beliefs were further cemented because everyone around me thought the same things or if they thought different they never mentioned anything to me. I had a very narrow world view.
It wasn’t till I was much older, around 16, when I decided to re-think these beliefs. It wasn’t till I started using more social media and hearing all these different opinions and I started making friends who didn’t think the same way I do. It wasn’t till then that I was actually curious about things like beauty standards, cultural differences and the way life was for people in different social groups.
This curiosity led to late nights watching youtube videos, reading articles online and reading about people’s opinions through tumblr text posts. It was such a revelation to me to learn about the way we can sometimes be thought to hate ourselves or hate other social groups because there is a dominant narrative in society that no one wanted to question.
With this curiosity however came the destruction of the blissful bubble I used to live in. I heard racist, sexist, ignorant comments coming from friends, family, celebrities I admired. The protection ignorance gave me was shattered because now, knowing what I do, I wasn’t going to allow the people I care about to make such statements. The thing is, it’s a lot harder to get people to listen to your thoughts if they didn’t already want to.
It made things harder but it also made things better because I learnt so much. I learnt why people say what they do, how they end up with certain beliefs, how I can help change minds and how I can be an ally to many people who don’t have a platform to voice their thoughts in society (one of the reasons I decided on doing a degree in media).
We don’t get to choose to the environment we grow up in and the things we are thought but I think that’s where curiosity has a huge role in our life. The curiosity you have has the ability to change the way you look at yourself, the way you look at the world and the way you choose to live your life.