The “poly vs polyam” Debate

So what is this about?

Around 2015 a discussion began where people who identified as Poly (as in Polynesian) asked blogs about polyamory to stop using “poly” as an abbreviation for polyamory.

There’s rumors that this discussion was actually started by white people assuming that this was a problem without any evidence. So is it true? I don’t care because I was personally asked to do the same thing, and therefore I’m bringing up this discussion again.

„But there‘s enough people from Polynesian countries saying that they don‘t even call themselves Poly!“

A president can hardly represent all of their people, so that random Facebook comment probably won’t, either.

Personally (from what I’ve read in discussions), I feel like it’s mostly people from who emigrated from Polynesian countries that use this term to have a common identifier. It reminds me a lot of the immigrants from Yugoslavia back in the days (before the most recent war). We used to be called Yugos and we started calling ourselves Yugos. But if you asked anyone in Yugoslavia, they’d tell you that they’re Croats, Serbs, etc.

„Poly- is a Greek prefix, no one can claim it!“

This is what makes this discussion so difficult. But it’s not telling you to stop using poly as an abbreviation for polycarbonate in your professional environment.

The main arguments are about “poly” marking a safe space for people from Polynesian countries and that it is used for this purpose for longer.

These sums up the main points of this discussion. The rest is my opinion on this matter. I am not telling you what to do (I’m not your parent/ guardian/ landlord/ whatever), I’m just asking you nicely to consider the rest of this post.

My Personal Opinion

The #poly hashtag is a mess. The #polymemes hashtag is a mess. And there isn’t much Polynesian lifestyle in #polylife, they’re all diluted.

I believe that it’s way easier for us to adapt here. Speaking about abbreviated tags and labels, we can use polyam or polya and it’s all ours, most of us learnt this terminology at some point of their lives from the internet and they’ll just read posts like this and now they can adapt.

If you grow up identifying as Poly from the age of a child, it’s something different. And content creators, especially young ones, will use those labels unaware of that their audience has a hard time finding them.

We don’t have a problem. They do. So just for the sake of compassion, please consider my recommendations on when to use and when not to use poly for polyamory:

It’s a Matter of Context

Consider this: Can the usage of poly be misleading, leaving room to assume that there would be Polynesian content? Will this make Polynesian content harder to find?

I’m giving some examples here, and please remember, this is my opinion here. I’m not representing anyone but myself:

#poly:
Probably the main “problem”. People follow and look for hashtags. It’s obviously diluting to use it as a hashtag or a part of one (that isn’t obviously about ethical non-monogamy).

Poly with a capital P:
Just don’t use this if you don’t mean Polynesian.

When talking to people privately:
You usually have established polyamory as a context. If someone doesn’t understand what it means they’ll ask.

Brand and page names:
To keep it simple: Can people who look for Polynesian brands or pages stumble upon your brand? That’s a strike. Could they assume that you’re producing goods, services or content from the first impression of your page? That’s strike two. Are you using a name that could likely be used by someone to promote Polynesian content, services, etc.? Then you’re out.

Your public dating profile:
If you’re white as a polar bear under a spotlight people probably won’t be confused but saying “polyamorous” instead will help people find out what you mean if they don’t know what it is, yet.

So are you changing to PolyamPirates?

No. What would you even assume from PolyPirates? A documentation of actual pirates raiding Polynesian waters? Or is the crew Polynesian but they’re raiding somewhere else? What would you assume finding a page called “Suspicious PolyRaccoon”? It’s not like this is PolyLifestyleTips or something.