Tag Archives: Peer Pressure

Moral Implications of Social Conformity

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The above video is fascinating.    It is also very revealing.

The experiment above is relatively benign.   But when i watched it, I couldn’t help but immediately tie the results into an answer to a question I have often asked myself:   “How could the acceptable standards of what is moral and what is not decline at the precipitous pace it has in the last few decades?”

We are all conditioned in many ways.   This doesn’t make us unthinking robots, but it is a natural part of our sense of community.    And I think God wired us that way so that we can condition ourselves rightly so that we can do good as a natural reaction without even thinking.   Of course, in a world where both good and evil resides, one can also be conditioned wrongly.

We need to take responsibility for our own conditioning, but it is without question that we are also greatly influenced by others, and we may not even realize it.    Parents try to form good habits in kids so that these kids just learn to do them.   Saying “please” and “thank you” is an act of conditioning.   I remember arguing with someone once about the value of doing simple things like opening the door for someone.   He argued that it wasn’t really “doing good” because it wasn’t so much an act of kindness or will as it was conditioning.   I argued that if someone cares enough to be conditioned or to have conditioned themselves to do a perpetually good thing that it doesn’t lose its value because you’ve made it a natural habit.  That’s ridiculous.

Unfortunately, as much as we’d all like to argue that TV, billboards, advertising, movies, music, etc. do not affect us, the reality is that it is probably nearly impossible to make that case.   Now, I will say that if you are morally grounded, confident in your faith, and resilient then it is entirely possible that you can consciously recognize when things are projecting their influence upon you, and it is more possible to ward off their impact.   But it would be silly to believe you cannot be influenced in the things you do, think, and believe by the culture and other influences around you.

And, truth be told, as God has been moved out of the public sphere and the minds of others, the moral code that people live by is a hodge-podge of ideas to start with.    So, now you start to introduce an acceptability to immodesty, different views on marriage, on sex, on violence, and so on can it really be as amazing as it seems to be that we’ve flipped our thinking upside-down on previously long-accepted ideas?

A perfect example of applying the concepts of the video above to the acceptance of cultural decay as something well and good is the typical University.   While there are some outstanding Catholic, Christian, and Conservative Universities we all know that these are exceptions.   It is a fact of the day that most Universities hold progressive views of what the rest of us see as cultural rot.   The administrations and faculty not only accept it themselves, but are open about it, promote it, and will in many cases shout down opposing opinions – ironically enough – in the name of tolerance.

If those who agree join in the vocalic of those positions while those who disagree stay silent, it will not take long for the pressure of conformity to kick in.   How many parents have lamented the fact that their “good kid” came back home after a year or two at school with all sorts of goofy ideas that go directly against the values they were raised with?    All those years, undone in nearly an instant.

As a parent, I watch this video, and I realize I need to share it with my kids and explain this very thing.    This happens not only with meaningless physical response, this is a very real and natural inclination.    Whenever your thinking and your beliefs are challenged and you seem to be standing alone, it still doesn’t mean that everyone else is right, or even makes any sense.   And they may not even know why they believe what they believe.

And on the flip side, this may be a good opportunity to evaluate whether or not any of us are accepting what we shouldn’t because it was just so easy to…

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Copy and Paste if you…

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…love Jesus.

…are really a true friend.

…hate cancer.

…don’t want toddlers to die.

 

As part of the Facebook generation, I’m really not entirely sure why I stay part of the Facebook generation.   I find that, more often than not, I am simply annoyed by what other people post.    The list is not short.   My liberal friends tell me I shouldn’t vote for Trump because he’s a horrible person, and then in a mind-boggling act of hypocrisy are planning on voting from Clinton.   One of my nephews is quoting gnostic gospels and arguing with someone about a pyramid in Bosnia or something.   Another nephew is gay and proudly proclaiming how “love won” because of the Supreme Court decision.   And then came the “solidarity” profile pictures that made my head want to explode.   And then the Traditionalist Catholics can’t help but tell me Pope Francis is an apostate.  And don’t get me started about requests to play games, or being poked or prodded or whatever it is that Facebook does.

But one of the more annoying things is when someone posts something on my timeline that says “I want to see how many of my friends are REAL friends.    No sharing allowed.   You must copy and paste this.”    This is the same approach as all those e-mails we’ve all gotten that try to guilt you into sending an e-mail along by saying something like “many of you will be too ashamed of Jesus to forward this and will delete it.   Those who really love Jesus will forward.”    Yeah – that’s it.   If I don’t forward an e-mail to all my friends I’ll burn in hell for all eternity because, obviously, it’s because I’m ashamed of Jesus.   Never mind that I don’t forward ANY e-mail because I actually don’t want to spam other people with a bunch of crap they don’t want to see, nor do I want to put someone through the same guilt trip I’m supposed to be going through.

I have a standard rule:   I do not copy and paste any message if I am specifically asked to do so.   If I want to copy and paste something I feel like copying and pasting (that’s never actually happened yet, but theoretically it could) then I will.    But don’t tell me to.   And this stand regardless of how nice and good and heart-wrenching your message is.   Babies are dying in Somalia?    I get it.   That sucks.   I may even look into charities that I can contribute to who are trying to do something about it.   I may even share an article about it (as long as I wasn’t told to), but I will not copy and paste.   Because if I do it for just ONE thing, then the precedent has been set, and suddenly I’m pitted against causes and people.

You think I’m your friend?   But you’ll only be sure if I copy and paste a post?    Get real.

And I love Jesus.   I’m not afraid to say it.   But if you try to guilt me into copying and pasting something that everyone will then know that a copied and pasted under pressure and duress, why is that in any way salvific?    And how am I evangelizing?    I LOVE JESUS!   NOW, IF YOU DON’T POST THIS YOU DON’T, AND I’LL KNOW I’M BETTER THAN YOU!   YAY ME!

And if I don’t copy and paste a post to raise awareness for sex trafficking, breast cancer, depression, yoga, or my left shoe then go ahead and think what you want about me if it makes you feel better.

So, the question is, am I being unreasonable?   As a Catholic, a Christian, and just a person trying to be a good overall human being am I taking a stand where I shouldn’t?   Or am I truly shying away from sharing the love of Jesus or helping mankind or just making a friend feel good?   Is my stand on principle actually innately unprincipled?

I don’t think so, and for now I’ll stick with my current modus operandi.  But I’m willing to listen to counter-arguments.