I've always been someone who avoids confrontation. Known as the diplomat, or the "calm one." It's kind, it's a compliment, but maybe it's not a trait that serves me well.Often my calmness is because I let things wash over me. Trying to not let myself get caught up with trivial annoyances. They're a boring waste of time. But sometimes the calmness is really because I'm too fearful of the repercussions of speaking out against other people or causes.Disagreeing with popular people or widely-held beliefs will make you unpopular. There's a reason it's considered bad manners to talk about politics or religion in polite company. And who wants to be unpopular? I want people to like me, to think I'm a nice person, and treat me accordingly. We don't trust people who would risk their popularity because we don't understand their motivations. Nobody wants to rock the boat.Looking back over my year of writing for The Pastry Box, I can see my internal struggle through my chosen topics. Do I talk about ethical issues that I really care about, though they show my naïvety? Or do I write a crowd-pleasing bit featuring dog photos because it'll get a positive response? Do I re-post the clever words from somebody else's mouth, or write something vague and thinly-veiled, reactionary and passive-aggressive?It's not easy navigating a world full of other people. We have our own ways of dealing with social situations and our own feelings. And maybe it's because I'm a big sister or a big scaredy-cat, I've become a person who will only defend my opinion when I'm angry. My brain simmers away, eating at me, until it consumes me entirely. At that point it's usually too late to sound reasonable.We're particularly discouraged from rocking the boat when we're privileged. We've got it good, why make ourselves unpopular and spoil our good lives? It reminds me of Shanley's post on the women in the tech industry who support the patriarchy with a "Fuck you, I got mine" attitude. The privileged amongst us have got it good, we don't want to rock that boat. Why would we defend an unpopular position, like trying to promote women in technology, when it's only going to diminish us in the eyes of others? We're sitting pretty in our positions of privilege.Working as a part of Ind.ie, and having many opinions on the issues of privacy, data, and human rights, I'm now frequently in new and scary situations. People often say new and scary is good. If you're uncomfortable, then you're moving forward. But for all the reverence of these times and qualities, we forget that it actually feels genuinely unpleasant. It's why we avoid scary situations. They are actually scary.There's a little voice in the back of my head that tells me to distract myself from controversial discussions. I should resist the urge to fight back against injustices that might make me unpopular. Save myself that grief. Just shut up. If you read my Twitter feed, you'll find a lot more about my dog and working tools than you'll find about my political and religious beliefs (or lack thereof…)I busy myself, I block out the noise that makes me feel uncomfortable. TV shows and podcasts are great for curbing distracting thoughts when I'm trying to get stuff done. I'll put something on in the background to deter ugly thoughts and the controversial opinions. It'll also stop me from echoing hurtful criticism around my head.If we're constantly distracting ourselves in this way, we can become consumed by surface. That's what happens when we don't want to look any deeper. I'll switch from conversations about equality, privacy, data, and human rights, and focus on the tools we're using. How we use SVG, why we use web fonts, my preferred graphics editor, the processes we use as a team. They're perfectly OK topics of conversation, useful and interesting in their own way. But if we only talk about those things, we're deliberately avoiding more meaningful discussions that affect the technology we use and its impact on the rest of the world.It's not because I'm not intelligent enough to think deeper or further, but because the ramifications of doing so scares me. You're reading tweets about #blacklivesmatter, right? But are you retweeting or trying to find out how to make a difference? I'm asking this of myself, here. Getting into these discussions tend to make the boat feel a bit wobbly…If we do decide to wade into the deep water, and care about something, we're presented with a new difficulty. If we don't have an answer to the problem, then our voices are considered unnecessary noise. We're troublemakers if we're not also sharing a potential solution. If we complain about the lack of women in technology, we're asked "what should we do about it, then?" If we don't have solution, then we're not supposed to criticise in the first place. We think that Google and Facebook are compromising our privacy? Well, what are we going to do about it? If your plan isn't watertight, then why are you rocking the boat?It's no wonder that we have to navigate the tech industry with so many elephants in the room. It's difficult to get by if you're not trying to fit in. And this makes me wonder whether the "diplomacy" of avoiding certain topics of conversation is really just pandering to those who want to shut that conversation down. It might be because they fear confrontation, or it might be because they don't want you to rock the boat, to upset their comfortable position. There are two kinds of people who don't want to talk about big issues: those who risk their popularity by speaking out, and those whose livelihoods rely on nobody speaking out.There's only so much we can care about, and get upset by, before we find ourselves genuinely depressed. Every other week there's some wise person saying they shut themselves off from news and current affairs because they're a distraction. They question how we can have a positive effect on the world if we're consumed by the negativity of every tragedy and injustice in the world. It's important to find a balance, and be able to function despite the world the around us. But I wonder how much we can disconnect ourselves from current events and issues before we're not living in the real world anymore. Who are we to decide which causes are important and deserving of our attention? If we're in a position to make those decisions, we're living protected by our privilege.