986 Touchy Topics

Greg asks Todd why elllo has so few controversial topics.


Greg: Hi, Todd.

Todd: Hey, Greg.

Greg: Hey, thanks a lot for interviewing me and letting, I don't know, the world know about my book.

Todd: No, problem. It's a good book.

Greg: Yeah, I've noticed you don't have any topics like these on your web site. Why not?

Todd: Right. I don't have too many controversial topics. There's actually technical reasons. One is it just takes too long for people to talk about a controversial topic, so for example if you really want to get into controversy, you know, it leads to long conversation and people expressing their view and arguing and the way that the audio is set up on elllo, it's kind of short. I try to keep it under three minutes, so that's one reason. But actually the main reason is because, you know, when people come in, I don't know them a lot of the times I don't know the speakers very well and so they're not really comfortable arguing with me or arguing with somebody else they don't know about something that's controversial, so we tend to not do that.

Greg: OK, alright, it's something you might want to think about. I mean, I think there are lot of people in the world who are really interested in controversial topics.

Todd: Well, I think there are some, like with you we talked about some like income disparity and medical issues, and I'm comfortable talking about that but I am not comfortable talking about let's say homosexuality, religious beliefs, abortion, politics. Things like that I just don't feel comfortable doing.

Greg: OK, it's your site: your right to do whatever you want, but I just think maybe ... maybe some of your listeners would appreciate that and maybe you could have ... my suggestion is that you have a little one page, controversial page, or something. Just, you know, try it out, and if you get a lot of good reaction, you might want to continue and if it doesn't work out stop it.

Todd: Well, actually, I'll give you an example of one I did recently. I had a woman come in, Stella, she did a great job on the videos, and one of her videos was about an usual sport in your country and hers was on cock fighting, and she explained cock fighting, or hen fighting, in Kenya, and right off the bat I knew that was going to be a problem because that's illegal in some countries and some people - animal activists - would be offended, but on the other hand, it's her culture and I don't feel comfortable saying - you know - what's right or what's wrong about someone else's culture so I just ended up not putting it on just because I didn't want to have to take a side. You know, I think you can kind of see the problem, that sometimes you can put stuff up and it's so easy to alienate maybe a small portion of your audience and I just don't want to do that. You know, I don't have a side about the issue but I just don't want to alienate people. I don't want people on one side of an issue to feel upset so I just play it safe, and I don't talk about it.

Greg: OK, well, you seem to have a lot of listeners who are very happy so don't worry about changing it.

Todd: I hope so. I hope so.

Greg is the author of Stimulating Conversations. You can learn more about his book here or contact him.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

income disparity


like income disparity

Income disparity measures the difference in income between rich and poor people. Notice the following:

  1. Economists warn that income disparity will continue to grow if the government fails to act.
  2. Male-female income disparity remains a problem in the United States.

right off the bat


Right off the bat I knew.

The phrase 'right off the bat' means immediately. Here are two samples:

  1. Just looking at his clothes, right of the bat I knew that he was American.
  2. As soon as the teacher began the lesson, I knew right off the bat that this would not be an easy class.

animal activists


Animal activists would be offended.

'Animal activists' are people who are concerned with the treatment of animals and work hard to bring about positive change. Notice the samples:

  1. Many animal activists disagree with using animals for medical research.
  2. Animal activists have been battling the fur industry for years.

put stuff up


You can put stuff up online.

When Todd talks about 'putting stuff up', he means posting it on elllo. Here are some samples:

  1. elllo's a fun site so I try not to put stuff up that might make people angry.
  2. Visit elllotweet where Todd puts stuff up about what's going on with the site.



It's so easy to alienate people.

When you alienate people, you cause them to stop supporting or agreeing with you. Notice the samples:

  1. It's easy to alienate people when you discuss politics, religion or other touchy topics.
  2. Animal activists sometimes alienate people with their strong beliefs.

play it safe


I just play it safe.

To play it safe means to be careful, not to take risks or do something dangerous.  Notice the following:

  1. Politics can be interesting, but it's a touchy topic so I just play it safe and don't put it up on the site.
  2. I'm not sure where the bus goes so let's just play it safe and take a taxi.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Keep Listening

Below are some more great lessons!

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
income disparity • right off the bat • activist • put up • alienate • play it safe
  1. His topics of conversation always seem to people.
  2. I knew that we were going to get along.
  3. She has been a human rights for a few years now.
  4. There is a large in our company between the clerical workers and the management.
  5. You should and bring a little more money than you think you will need.
  6. Can I an advertisement on this wall?