MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “norms”

Zitti e Βuoni

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People often have a weird tendency of not saying what they want at the time they’re supposed to. We tend to come up with all the right comebacks and arguments much after an incident occurs; the so-called l’esprit d’escalier (the predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late).

Often it is much easier to say nothing in fear of provoking an argument. And as kids, we are usually told to be quiet and behave no matter how wrongly or unfairly we feel we’re being treated. We grow up with that attitude. With the notion of saying nothing because it’s ‘frowned upon’ or due to concerns of what our reaction may incite. So many movements have grown nowadays exactly because of this mentality. The most recent #MeToo incidents have sparked the question of why now and not then; yet regardless of the answer, there is the concern of why we don’t speak out at all, not only when or even after things happen. Things that are worthy of our voice being heard.

Italy’s winning song at Eurovision 2021 sent a loud message that difference matters and that making some noise may sometimes lead to something good; a change that everyone longs for but few actually act upon. In a performance that literally rocked Europe, this group appeared in controversial clothing and make-up to state that “vi conviene stare zitti e buoni” (“you’d better shut up and be quiet”), but adding the truth that people often don’t really know what they’re talking about (“Parla la gente purtroppo Parla non sa di che cosa parla”), and recognising that “Siamo fuori di testa ma diversi da loro” (we’re crazy but different from them”). Perhaps it is this boldness to be different that most appealed to the European public.

Because we all want to make a change. But few are courageous enough to do something. It’s easier to be quiet and concede to the norms, rather than speak out and disturb the status quo.

Right is right regardless

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We, people, are too concerned about appearances. About what other people think. About how we may seem to others; the image we portray.

We are often more concerned about the impression we give, than about acting right and with integrity. We lose ourselves to please others, but, worse, to fit into social confinements.

There are certain ways of acting that we can realise on our own if they are right or not. No matter the norms of social behaviour, we can discern if it is acceptable to shout in public, to speak badly to service workers, to be rude to anyone. They are part of those things that frankly should be common sense.

But what most people fail to comprehend is that just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right or even acceptable.

Similarly, just because certain people act in a similar manner around everyone – e.g. flirting or being overly effusive – doesn’t make that behaviour acceptable or appropriate either.

There are some things we need to respect when it comes to friendships and social conduct.  We need to take into account the people we have before us and adjust our manners accordingly.

But essentially, it is one single thing: don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you. If you want to be respected, treat the people next to you with respect. It will elevate you much more than anything else you could say or do.

Remember, “right is right even if no one is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” (St Augustine).

Social norms

We live in a society that even inexplicitly wants us to follow rules. Unwritten regulations that are the norm. If you go against them, it is not only frowned upon, but you are seen as a reactionary, even an outcast. Simply because you don’t conform.

But it is not those who follow the path of the masses who ever accomplished anything. It is those who don’t fear to find a way of their own. Who have the courage to be different.

But until you find the strength to do something out of the ordinary, most of the time you are forced to live in hypocrisy. To socialise and be polite to people you are not even fond of, to behave “appropriately” according to context, to press “like” on social networks even if you don’t, to make positive comments even when you don’t believe them, to act constantly out of the character you know you are, simply because this is what is “socially acceptable”.

 We live our lives in fear of “what others will think or say” of us. And as such we end up suppressing our potential, hiding our true feelings and at times even dumbing ourselves down because the level of those surrounding us is so much lower.

What if we didn’t do all of this? What if we didn’t oppress ourselves the way we do? What if we didn’t care what others would say? What if we simply did what would make us happy and make us feel satisfied and proud of who we are? The world would definitely seem a better place, if only because we would feel more comfortable in it.

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