Mayfield: We’re all a little sus but we can also do better

May 17, 2024, 3:48 PM

news protests college campuses...

University police are confronted by protestors as they block access to the Main Quadrangle on the University of Chicago campus while they break up a pro-Palestinian encampment on May 07, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

This week our son called me sus. It’s short for suspect and it’s Gen Alpha slang for shady.

He’s not wrong. I still call things cool or awesome without any irony. I often wear ankle socks (which the internet says makes me old). I’ve never downloaded TikTok and I still don’t understand  Skibidi Toilet on YouTube.

But here’s the thing … I’m also not upset about it.

I bring this up because I think it’s a surface-level feeling we all experience as we age. I bet right now you are thinking about some of the things you still say, do, or like, probably make you sus too.

Mayfield: Washington lawmakers must fix broken school funding system

Now though, I’m going to admit something that is tougher to talk about … sometimes modern discussions about evolving ethics, morals and viewpoints also make me feel uncool.

I have always considered myself open-minded and willing to listen to other points of view. I have fought for acceptance and equality. I have tried to teach our kids the value of equity and diversity.

And yet, sometimes, if I am honest, I still struggle to understand. I can even feel discomfort or confusion around some social justice topics like gender and race. My initial reaction in my mind, unspoken, isn’t always a good one. Sometimes I have to stop myself from reacting to a news story, an online campaign or even an email from our kids’ well-meaning school.

Sound familiar?

Yet, I would argue, it’s what happens next that is key.

Too much of our world today is built on instant response, instant reaction and instant outrage. Right now, it’s impossible to have a balanced discussion around the war in Gaza without being buried under an avalanche of vitriol. You can’t bring up pros or cons around gender-affirming care without being swamped with outrage. And of course, good luck even saying the names of the current or former president without a firestorm of tribal rage.

Other news: Judge tosses lawsuit aimed at removing state’s gender-affirming care for youth

We live in a nuanced world where nothing is ever clear or direct. Every person has a different lived experience. We need to do a better job of listening to each other and then being brave enough to confront our own discomfort. Maybe we can find our hearts are fully changed. Maybe we can find a way to meet in the middle. Or maybe we do indeed remain unconvinced, but we can remain that way while still respecting and even, dare I say, loving others who differ.

Do we check our initial reaction and then listen even harder to what’s being discussed? Do we consider what others are authentically thinking, feeling and sharing? Do we check in after we have given ourselves time to digest and consider or reconsider?

Let’s remember we are all uncool in our own ways and it is how we choose to proceed that will determine how sus we truly are.

Travis Mayfield is a Seattle-based media personality and a fill-in host on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of his stories and commentaries here.

KIRO Newsradio Opinion


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Mayfield: We’re all a little sus but we can also do better