Photo Credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

When I was younger, a mentor in my life gave me some good advice. He told me that if I was reading and there was a word I didn’t know, I needed to go look it up and find out what it means, because it could potentially change the entire context. It was such a simple piece of advice, but it stuck with me and you would be amazed at how many words I was skimming over that I didn’t know.

The same concept applies in life; if you keep using a word without knowing what it means, sooner or later people are going to point it out, and you will look stupid. There’s this word that I keep hearing throughout culture: phobia. It’s most popular use is in suffix form, as in something-phobic. What does it mean?

Merriam-Webster defines phobia as ‘an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation’. For example, I have arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. My family jokes that I shouldn’t be allowed to live on my own since I literally cannot kill a spider for myself, and I kind of agree with them. The fear is illogical enough that I refer to even the tiniest of spiders as a monster, and a common sentence spoken throughout the years to those I live with has been, “I need you to go slaughter the beast.”  

I’m terrified of spiders. That’s an excellent example of a phobia. However, we’re not seeing this word used in contexts like this. We’re seeing phobia used as a suffix in words like ‘transphobic’, ‘homophobic’ and ‘Islamophobic’. Although I am sure there are cases out there where people genuinely are inexplicably and illogically terrified of transgender people, homosexuals, and Muslims, we need to set the record straight for the other 99% of the time.

People are not ‘transphobic’ if they are concerned about the repercussions of dismantling gender-specific restrooms.

People are not ‘homophobic’ if they support traditional marriage and hold to a one man one woman marriage being the best place for children.

People are not ‘Islamophobic’ when they discuss the fact that ISIS is a militant Islamic terrorist group.

See, people on the left can be smart. One of the fastest ways to take down your opposition is to claim that they only believe the way they do because they’re bigoted or fearful. Thus, the rise of calling people ‘phobics’.

Having a differing opinion does not make you a phobic. Having a set of principles you don’t sway from and having views that are drastically different than our politically correct culture does not make you a phobic. You know what makes you a phobic? HAVING A INEXPLICABLE AND ILLOGICAL FEAR OF SOMETHING. Disagreeing with someone ideologically different from you is not the same as being absolutely terrified when you encounter the thing you disagree about.

So, the next time somebody says you’re a phobic when it comes to a certain issue, whip out the actual definition of phobia and start the needed conversation.

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