Society pushes teens to go with the crowd

Staff Editorial

It is hard not to stereotype. Everybody does it. A girl walks by wearing big hoop earrings and colorful high top Nikes. Someone says, “Oh, she’s so ghetto.” Everybody says it. Anyone with bling or saggy pants or a tiny back pack becomes “ghetto.”

Those living in true poverty might not agree with the American teen’s definition of the word “ghetto.” While it seems harmless, stereotyping is offensive and disrespectful. What is frustrating is that it stems from a greater problem – society’s push for everybody to go with the flow.
This is not peer pressure. This is the societal pressure to fit in and to sound cool. Just because someone does or says something – no matter how cool she is – does not make it right. But it is hard not to resist fitting in. Humans need each other – when and when not to fit in becomes tricky.
People should think about how their actions or words affect people. When a friend says, “That’s so retarded” or “That’s so gay” they are not being funny. That treatment of the language is not fair to people with Down syndrome or gay parents.

These colloquial expressions destroy the meaning of the original words. It is a common mistake for people to say things without realizing how hurtful they may be, but being common is all part of fitting in. The pressure is contagious.

Thousands of people went to the recent Outside Lands concert in Golden Gate Park. There were people who went just to say they went. They may not have known or cared who was playing. They simply echoed the cheers of those around them. At a concert that big any fan would not be expected to know every artist, but a concert is for enjoying the art for art’s sake, not to go nuts with a crowd.

This mob mentality is a serious problem. The kids involved in the Mural Music and Arts Project are using art as a way to escape the gangs and negativity they were born into. They are encouraged
to fight against the pressure from their families and communities to rise out of their difficult situations.

The term may ghetto truly apply to their lives, but they do not let the violence or racial tensions in their neighborhoods define them. Instead of going with the flow they participate in something outside their comfort zone – an exploration of the arts for peace. Going with the flow is not always necessarily right.

To understand how one’s actions will effect someone, it is important to stay informed – to stand still and evaluate whether or not to succumb to what society demands. It is often difficult to question the status quo. It can be difficult not to follow. But it is never too late to shrug off societal pressure and to think with an open mind.

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