Society’s Mental Prison

Minjoon, Staff Writer

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With the rise of free speech and activism in today’s society, many can’t help but think about how free we are to express opinions and think differently. Some optimistically think of society as a breeding ground for diversity and free expression. However, what humanity has built for itself is a prison for our thoughts and opinions. Social media, societal norms and labels have enslaved us and restricted our voices.

Our political beliefs and perspectives are often shaped by the news we read and watch. Many of us are so accustomed to blindly believing in what is reported in articles, podcasts and news shows. We rarely think about how the media can be biased and may be reporting on certain things in order to shift public opinion.

For example, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) interim chairwoman, Donna Brazile, leaked CNN debate questions to Hillary Clinton. Because of this, Brazile lost her job as CNN contributor. CNN was also found to be colluding with the DNC about what questions to ask Donald Trump in an upcoming Wolf Blitzer interview.

CNN was supposed to be a news program that reported truthfully and unbiasedly. We expect the media we watch to report in the most fair way possible. However, unbiased media is extinct in today’s society. This deepens the partition between politically active individuals in America. Perhaps this is why we can never come to an agreement in politics. Our society has become so divided and one-sided with their thinking. Instead of considering others’ opinions, we immediately prioritize our own. This prison that has all of us trapped to our exclusive perspectives must be broken out of. If we truly wish for political compromise, we must be different and open in our words and actions.

When it comes to having an opinion and speaking out about it, we are often times restricted by race, religion and gender. These labels are indeed a problem when we try to freely express ourselves. If an African American or an Asian chooses to be conservative, they are labeled a so-called “traitor.” If a Christian supports the LGBT community, the extremely conservative Christians would criticize them. These societal norms characterize our political beliefs in how we look and think. Kanye West recently spoke out about his support for Trump and he received an extreme amount of backlash. The public told him that he should not publicize this opinion because “so many people look up to him,” and he would “negatively influence” them. What happened to the times when we were so supportive of diverse opinions? We have always encouraged people to be unique, be themselves, and think how they want. The very ideals we stand for as a country comes from free opinions. As a nation, we must work on embracing the value of free expression that has shaped us today, and free ourselves from societal norms and roles.

The scrutiny against opinions grows even worse when we look at it under a microscope. Humanity categorizes people for how smart they are and value opinions based on mental health, intelligence and socioeconomic status. We have grown to instinctively trust the opinion of a college graduate over the ones of a high school student. The stigma we have against mental health leads us to distrust a person with a mental disorder. If a homeless man on the street preaches about ending gun violence, many would ignore it. However, seeing famous celebrities and politicians speak out about certain topics makes us value their opinion and in some cases, agree with them.

We have stratified the opinions of all humans based on these labels when in fact, all opinions must be valued.

On top of restricting someone’s perspective based on their identity, we also disregard beliefs because of labels. At this point, it seems as if there is no turning back. Our stratification and division as a society seems to be permanently engraved. However, as a society, we must examine our flaws and rethink our values about free expression. Our mental imprisonment has been constructed by our hands, so therefore, we must destroy it with our hands. Our very values as a nation considers free speech as a paramount right. Instead of supporting this right with words, we must rather represent it with actions.


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