Stigmas around beliefs

Graphic by Koko Grundler

Graphic by Koko Grundler

Due to the current high usage of social media, everything one says can be publicly broadcasted on the internet. With everyone being able to view these, people get large amounts of public backlash for expressing their views. In modern society, when someone does not like something another person has said, they can dismantle the other person’s opinion. This can take the form of one becoming subject to cancel culture and being ostracized from their own community due to expressing opposing beliefs.

Our society encourages individuality, in that everyone is told that it is okay to be yourself and to not be afraid of being different. However, this belief in individuality does not extend to opinions. In this modern culture, people having different ideals than the masses are discouraged from having those opinions. Encouraging differences in society while forcing people to conform to a certain set of beliefs is major hypocrisy. 

The cancellation of people in the online world also contributes to a decrease in expression in the real world. If people are too scared to speak their views online, even anonymously, why would somebody talk about their beliefs in the real world, where you can get personally attacked? The toxicity of this new online culture permeates into the real world, which will eventually cause society to deteriorate, and personal expression to become a thing of the past. If personal expression is not present in a democratic society, citizen participation also decreases, and if people are not participating in a democracy, is the democracy really democratic?

In this modern culture, the respect for another person’s right to an opinion has diminished, thus leading to the toxic ostracizing of a person with different beliefs. This toxic culture shuts off people’s voices, forcing them to stay silent to avoid being ostracized for their views. This removes an essential part of society, the opposition. If there is no opposition in society, then there is no change. Additionally, this ostracization removes the voice of many people in a society, which contributes to the deterioration of a functional, democratic civilization.

This toxic culture must be stopped. As a civilization, we need to learn to respect that people are going to have beliefs that are different from ours and that they are entitled to their own opinion, whether we think it is right or wrong. If we continue to ostracize people for their different beliefs (and basically censor them), we will be going down a dark path, leading to a civilization not so different from Mussolini’s Italy, where there was no opposition party and no democracy. So please, respect the opinions of others, or else civilization and free speech as we know it will become a remnant of the past.