America is frequently considered the land of opportunity. We are a melting pot where people from all over the world come to build a new life. In theory, we are an accepting people who can look past the color of someone’s skin and value who he or she is on the inside. People are given the freedom of speech, and their right to practice it is legally defended under our Constitution’s First Amendment. However, in reality, many Americans rarely use this inalienable right.
Social conformity plays a huge role in censorship of speech throughout society today. Rather than speaking one’s mind, people are inclined to be politically correct. Political correctness comes from the attitude that many have adopted in fear of offending or upsetting others.
Our society has become so aware of every minute detail and potential implication of what we say that there is little to no space for open speech. Because everyone is so concerned with what they say, very little is said at all. For example, if you say something as simple as “black” rather than “African-American,” you could be thought of as being racist. In our modern day and age, now even saying “African-American” might be considered racist by some because not all black people are of African descent. The fear of being thought of as an uncultured philistine is so omnipresent that no one even considers asking the questions that others won’t.
Political correctness has spread so far and wide that almost everything that comes out of anyone’s mouth is self-censored. Frequently, when any sort of controversial situation arises, it is not addressed because society is too afraid to speak out about it honestly. Because of the unspoken rule of political censorship, actual discussions are prevented from occurring. Many topics are deemed too taboo to discuss in public, making honesty and forwardness uncommon in our world.
In addition, the social conformist inside each of us overrides the ability for us as individuals to publicly convey our true opinions on just about anything. There is little to no confidence instilled in today’s citizens of the world when it comes to speaking our mind. This mentality takes a toll on the ability for meaningful conversations to happen, leading to absolutely no conversations happening at all. Without truthful and open conversations, our society becomes unable to inspire change within ourselves and within others. Nothing can happen, and nothing is said otherwise.
Instead of just beating around the bush, it is imperative that society takes a step back and realizes that being open and honest isn’t always going to upset someone. People don’t always want to intentionally offend others when they make comments or pose questions that give rise to discomfort. In order to create change, conversations that may initially feel uncomfortable must be had. We need to have the courage to tackle even the most controversial, difficult topics, and by releasing our desire to be politically correct, we can truly inspire change.