On a typical day in 2018, the average person may be found doing the following: Over-watering their succulents, taking a questionable number of pictures of their cat, messaging their loved ones, worrying about their student loans, or partaking in a mutual debate with another person over the erratic state of current politics.
There is much to consider when bringing up politics or critiques of an unpopular subject in front of an audience of one, or an audience of potentially 1000s in the comment section of a popular Facebook page. How many people are negatively affected by this issue? How many people benefit from this and therefore are very opposed to the suggestion that the subject may be harming many? These are common and important things to consider.
What isn't clear to consider is: How many people are willing to accept that a popular topic may in fact be quite harmful to a large number of people, including themselves?
There appears to be a universally unspoken rule by many, which could be mockingly summed up as: "Do not speak with me about an issue, unless it has been determined to be an issue either by Buzzfeed, by a widely attended planned protest, or by the issue being addressed by my Facebook friends."
And that stance is somewhat understandable, because who are you or I to suggest that something accepted by everyone, from the cafe cashier to the "wokest bae," is actually something that should be criticized or rejected?
By choosing to speak up about what can be observed with an open mind to be a problem for many—even with proper sourcing, one can find themselves guilted into feeling that our observations have nothing to offer in regards to progress. They only cause harm by hurting the feelings of people in conversation, people that would identify as "the opposite of Conservative." The subject is rejected without thought or consideration and is seen as only there to make others uncomfortable.
So, why are the people who claim to be for progress reflexively against progress when presented with issues that have yet to be widely addressed by an established media source, or by presumably at least five of their respected acquaintances?
This unspoken rule unfortunately prevents people from considering new information which may inform them of the damaging natures of industries and narratives that they have unblinkingly welcomed into their lives and the lives of those around them.
Case in point: The beauty industry. One can choose to see the embracing of beauty as a sign of women becoming more attentive to their self-care needs, but in order to do this, there must be a disconnection from the inherent sexism—and racism—present in virtually every aspect of the beauty industry.
Contouring methods are widely used to achieve a more Eurocentric standard of beauty. The modeling industry is proven to negatively affect girls' and women's self-worth to such a degree as to cause eating disorders and disordered self-image issues. More could be said, but this is another subject for another article.
And yet, these industries are allowed to flourish, and are even embraced by sociopolitical movements and media outlets that claim to be about the empowerment of the affected groups.
Just as people in the past have unknowingly spread misleading narratives of the decency in a social structure or industry by simply echoing the statements of trusted sources, we in the present suffer from this blind spot, as well. We continue to impede social progress by hushing people who may have an insight as valid as the information from our trusted sources, and by continuing to seek out progress only once it has been deemed acceptable by the circles and sources we associate ourselves with.
This apathy by the individual and for the individual will always cause only one thing: For the oppressed to continue to be oppressed, and for social progress to remain slowed. God bless tradition.