Marquette Wire

COMSTOCK: A generation of babies

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Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@mu.edu

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@mu.edu

Photo by Doug Peters

Photo by Doug Peters

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@mu.edu

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Trigger warning: this column might be offensive to some. I bet you’re still reading, though. There’s nothing our generation loves more than finding offensive media and demonizing it. Yes, we “social justice warriors” are combatting the racism, sexism, classism, and other discrimination of the world by demanding inclusive environments wherever we go. But are we really helping the cause in doing so?

Where did this obsession with, and expectation of, political correctness come from? There are many factors, including more stringent ant-discrimination and disability laws, and the attitude shift contributed to the cushy elementary school experiences we had. Fifty years ago, people would balk if I told them my elementary school only allowed us to bring in fruits and vegetables for birthday celebrations, or that the primarily Christian student population sang “we wish you a swingin’ holiday” instead of “we wish you a merry Christmas” at the “holiday” performance. American elementary schools: where some students are too “gifted” to sit through math class and instead get to leave and play with stress balls. From early on, we are taught that our individual needs will be swiftly accommodated, and that any discomforting ideas will not be discussed in the classroom.

Somewhere in the ongoing fight for equality, the line between political correctness and censorship was blurred.

Universities across the country have implemented policies requiring professors to provide “trigger warnings” to students in case class material may elicit negative emotional responses. Marquette has created a bias reporting system to report bias incidents on the basis of a seemingly unlimited range of factors.

Just the other day, my marketing class was shown a Volkswagen ad from the 1950s about a snowplow man getting to his snowplow thanks to his Volkswagen. He then pointed out that this ad would not fly today because identifying the snow plow man as a man would be considered sexist to female snow plow operators. Marketing professionals today need to tiptoe around peoples’ feelings or potentially face a brand management crisis fueled by social outrage.

These stories pop up on social media newsfeeds every day. It makes you wonder if people actively search the internet for offensive material. A prime example is the University of Alabama Alpha Phi sorority recruitment video, which was called sexist and “worse for women than Donald Trump.” Curious, I watched it, waiting for some frat guy to pop up and demand the girls make him a sandwich or something. Nope, just a lot of glitter, bikinis, and gorgeous girls that probably engendered some jealousy disguised as political correctness. The video received so much backlash that it was taken down. This is what we have come to: a generation of babies.

Maybe you watched Nicole Arbour’s “Dear Fat People” video that has generated a good amount of internet buzz in the past week. As mentioned in the video, 35 percent of North Americans are obese. Not surprisingly, many brands and media outlets have been chastised for “fat shaming.” Arbour goes after the #bodypositive movement in an extremely vicious video. Most would consider the video disdainful, but underneath the harsh words, it illustrates an underlying problem with our generation; we do not want to be exposed to things we find disagreeable.

But a trigger only causes a gun to go off if you pull it, right? When we let political correctness get out of control, we only hurt ourselves. By avoiding counterarguments, we weaken our sense of values. It’s a concept in psychology called attitude inoculation, and it’s probably the reason that you are likely not a smoker. According the Center for Disease Control, 42.4 percent of adults smoked in 1965. The most recent statistic in 2011 shows that number has decreased to 19 percent. Maybe you remember the role-playing scenarios in elementary school where someone was pressuring a friend to smoke and we practiced different ways to say no. Kids today are able to resist persuasion when it comes to smoking more easily because they are inoculated with conflicting ideas, which in turn, strengthens their convictions.

I hope our generation can begin to recognize the value in letting things go. Demanding complete comfort and protection from unfavorable ideas is not preparation for the real world, and our future managers are not going to tuck us in with a bedtime story.

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