Us vs Them: A Masked Society

When reading our class assignments for this week I found myself especially interested in The Mask, by Kimlyn Bender. I found its overarching idea, that by putting on a mask we can more readily circumvent our own ethical standards, resonated with me. I think in today’s day and age our closets are filled with masks and we often display them when we go online. I admit I am not the biggest fan of social media; through it I routinely see fighting, bickering, and shortsightedness that represents the worst society has to offer.

I think one of the largest problems with social media is that it provides an audience and a stage with which we emphasize the masks we commonly associate with (whether they be political, religious, etc). The disconnection that online comments and forums provide allow the loyalty that we have for our masks to often overpower our civility. In the modern social media age, I feel like we too commonly see ourselves only as the masks we wear, and any discourse quickly devolves into a us vs them mentality. I feel that people like their masks, and they want others to only wear the masks they wear while asserting that everyone else is wrong. This mentality is especially dangerous, and it is exasperated by the ability for people to surround themselves with exclusively likeminded individuals – allowing for reinforced misconceptions and misinformation to run rampant. The us vs them mentality leaves little room for conversation, or compromise and, in my opinion, is creating massive holes in our social fabric.

If “we cannot expect ethical behavior from a society which is motivated purely by incentives and expediency; ethical conduct is not always profitable or practical” what can we do to ethically counteract the ‘me first’ and consumeristic society that is taking hold in the modern age?

3 Replies to “Us vs Them: A Masked Society”

  1. I really liked this post! I agree that social media causes people to take a side. By constantly being reaffirmed by like-minded individuals, we perpetuate our own beliefs and block out anyone that disagrees with us. Especially in politics, people are completely unwilling to listen to someone else with a different opinion. We view those that oppose our views as wrong even though there is no right and wrong, only different. Maybe we’re all not so different after all, and if we listen to those with different opinions than us, we might just learn a thing or two and expand our world view. This closed-minded, us-vs.-them mentality does nothing but promote animosity and halt progress and understanding.

  2. Social media is probably the worst offender when it comes to reaffirming our own beliefs I notice that when I research things online I often get targeted adds on my facebook. This knowledge hole happens with groups and pages that we like as well. I’ll get an advertisement for a similar group to the one I follow which means I only see things that I am interested in. If we get out of our own space and listen and appreciate the views and ideas of others we will become better, more well-rounded individuals. Unfortunately, this is better said than done.

  3. Social media is like a double-edge sword in our daily life. It does a great job in sending out news and messages in a timely way and can be really efficient in calling for help. On the other hand, due to the anonymous feature, everyone can easily put on the mask and become someone else and free from the constraint of personal ethics and responsibility. This mask makes people online somewhat “bullet-proof” and promotes dissemination of “fake news” as well as malicious slander/rumors. I still believe the key to solve these lies in ethics education, though I know there is still a long way to go.

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