We’re all aware of the prejudices that happen in our world. We have protests popping up everywhere against progressive, rational thought, preventing people from getting equality, and hindering the development of our species.
We also have a new generation that is more accepting than the one before it, more open-minded, more kind.
And yet this generation also tends to be a little bit self-focused and forgets about others. Not necessarily selfish, keep in mind, but just a little bit ignorant about the fact that there are other people who see things differently than them.
Maybe it has something to do with the widespread apathy that runs rampant through society in the age of the Internet. I don’t know, I don’t have statistics to back this up, but I get the impression that people tend to care about far less things than they used to.
All of that leads to us kind of losing our ability to recognize that others might think differently. It’s strange to think that in the cultural melting pot that is the Internet, that we wouldn’t be exposed to the viewpoints of others, but somehow we’ve gotten too good at filtering things out and we’ve reached the point of filtering out too much. Surveys show that millennials just don’t care about homosexuality or government or race the way previous generations did. It’s not so much that they accept it (although many do), it’s that it doesn’t register to them as an actual issue.
As a result, we seem to have lost the ability to deal with issues of oppression when they do arrive. Why is it that when someone speaks out about discrimination against them, instead of taking them seriously, we tell them to stop complaining because, “everyone suffers, you are no different”?
When I first started coming across this kind of reaction, I was angered. How dare you minimize the suffering of one person by trying to puff up your own suffering in comparison.
That’s fair on both sides of the issue. But that’s not my point.
I started thinking about how come this seemed to be such a common response to discrimination.
We’ve lost sight of what it means to actually be different. I think we’ve forgotten, in this era of “acceptance” that there are people out there who are not like us. Even though we have access to every culture via the Internet, we don’t take advantage of that. We still hang out with the same kinds of people online as we do in real life, to a certain extent (and speaking generally).
Someone speaks out about women’s rights, and suddenly we have the Men’s Rights Activists telling women to stop complaining because men have problems too.
Someone professes to be an Atheist, and the Christians tell them to stop complaining because Christians are prosecuted too.
Someone comes out as homosexual and the straight people tell them to stop complaining because straight people are prejudiced too.
None of these are necessarily untrue. Men have problems, Christians are prosecuted, and straight people have to deal with stereotypical gender roles as well.
But all of them are completely missing the point.
It’s not about you in that moment, it’s about the person who feels they are being oppressed. Listen to them, they deserve that at least. I promise you, they’re not lying to get attention. Even if they are, it’s still probably an issue that needs someone to speak out about. They know firsthand what they’re talking about so take them seriously.
If we could all stop trying to minimize everyone else’s difficulties because we feel our own aren’t getting their proper due, and just start listening to each other, we could all start solving things together.
Wake up a little bit. The Internet is amazing, but it works for us, no matter how much we’d like to believe The Matrix has already happened (is that what we want to believe?).