Anonymity of social media spurs intolerance
by KAREN LU
Depending on where one grows up, one’s perception of issues can be drastically different than those of others.
While having different opinions is often encouraged, when people’s views are so contradictory, to the point where violence is involved, it is a problem for all.
A mindset is shaped by a multitude of factors, predominantly the environment and today’s social media influence, so naturally Americans have many opposing views. Social media has become a dominant force in people’s lives as a means of expressing their opinions.
Since internet users are able to hide behind a screen, they are less afraid of consequences that could arise from posting offensive statements. However, this does not justify doing it, and will not only lead to conflict with others but also demoralize the person to whom the negative comment is made. Physical violence is not the only form of harm; cyber bullying can inflict a mental scar far more painful and lasting than a visible one. Therefore, people should refrain from making disrespectful and distasteful comments, most of which they would never make if facing the person. When confronted with a negative comment, people should try to encourage more civilized discussion rather than increasing the severity of the situation by retorting rashly.
Opinions on certain topics are affected by the environment people grow up in and the values family members and friends impressed on them at a young age. Children are not born with predetermined ideals, rather it is their experiences from a young age and the way their parents taught them that shapes their perspective. Racism and bigotry are not born in individuals; it can be combated if values of respect and tolerance are instilled first. In areas where there is less racial and ethnic diversity, it is more of a challenge for individuals to have empathy for others of different backgrounds.
There is no set way to address an issue; even if someone’s opinion on a topic is completely opposite, individuals should learn to be more open and accepting of varied opinions. This is not only a way to avoid conflict, but is also an effective means to broaden perspectives. Interacting with those who come from unfortunate circumstances makes it easier to develop the empathy needed to understand and make connections with them and others.
An example of this can be seen in something as simple as the foods we consume every day. Foods that are considered the norm in some countries could be perceived as exotic or odd in other countries. Some people even go as far as attacking and criticizing the way others eat. Countries have varying environments and are suited for the production of different food sources, so a line of distinction between whether or not something is edible should not be made. Cultures have developed different means of using the available food for survival.
Another aspect that can change the way people think is the economic background in which one grows up. Those who are more fortunate do not have the same worries about providing basic necessities as those who are less fortunate, so the issues they feel strongly about clash frequently or are often misinterpreted.
Since Southern California is more racially diverse than other parts of the country, it is more difficult for us to see how controversial beliefs could be formed. In states with less racial or ethnic diversity, it is more difficult for people to develop the empathy needed to understand others, which is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is wrong to judge others based on their beliefs and way of life, or to see only one set of beliefs as the better way for all.