The process of crossing boundaries involves uncovering what is buried within and re-evaluating values and ideas. Crossing confining boundaries is an important part of social progress and equality. Without it, society would still enslave people of colour, suppress women and execute homosexuals. By devaluing unrealistic connotations or expectations people are able to break away from predetermined moulds and define their own identities and paths. However, problems arise when boundaries are crossed in destructive ways which make individuals feel targeted, uncomfortable or manipulated. While our society has come a long way over the years, technological advancements have induced a whole new wave of social issues. Social media especially has opened up endless possibilities for people to spread cyber bullying, harassment and hate speech on several platforms and to a limitless audience.
As someone who has grown up in the generation of social media, I have seen people disregard feelings, respect and basic humanity for the sake of a ‘harmless’ laugh. I have seen people who stood up for what is right only to be brutally bashed down and hated on for ‘being too sensitive’ or ‘getting upset for no reason.’ In fact, while I was procrastinating writing this speech, I came across a meme on Facebook which summarised what I am trying to explain perfectly. It was a photo of a newspaper article titled “My mother forced me to be a slave” which I later discovered to be a devastating story of child abuse and manipulation. Instead of spreading awareness of deeper social issues like they could have, the person who shared the photo decided to add an oh-so-funny caption – “when my mum forces me to do the dishes”. How can people draw boundaries in a world that is so disconnected and dehumanised that it is acceptable and normal to turn horrible social issue into an ‘innocent little’ joke?
When people are constantly exposed to such dehumanised values, they too begin to believe that disrespect and turning everything into a joke is ok. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the viscous social cycle of how behaviours and beliefs are imposed onto people – expose them to the horrors long enough and soon they will become numb to it. I must admit that I too have fallen victim to this. After all, how can we expect respect and dignity from each other when our very own self-elected ‘leader’ Mr Donald Trump takes to twitter on a regular basis to share his petty arguments, temper tantrums and horrifically controversial opinions? “If Hilary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”, “sadly because president Obama has done such a poor job at president, you won’t see another black president for generations!”, “@Jesus, such a loser. Would be nothing without daddy. Mom wasn’t a virgin. Needed to be said. SAD” the list goes on. This may shock you Mr Trump but you’re rude and discriminatory opinions were not actually ‘needed to be said’. Just because you can push everyone’s boundaries doesn’t mean you should. I wish I could say that Donald Trump was an appalling and scandalous outlier in a world filled with angels or at least… you know decent human beings. But he isn’t. He represents a new breed of people, one which is too self-righteous and spoilt to even admit its flaws, let alone amend them.
So no, we no longer enslave people of colour and force them into chains and shackles to do our bidding. Now we force them into a society which is unwilling to appreciate their individuality and instead shackles them to predetermined expectations and stereotypes on how to look, act and speak. No we no longer supress women to such an extent, now we simply supress anyone who has an out of the ordinary opinion, belief or way of doing things. And no, we no longer execute homosexuals, but the rise of social media has enabled a new generation of people to execute each and every boundary laid down by our founding fathers – respect, honour, decency and apparently basic intellect too.