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Social and Cultural Norms: Modern Issues Essay

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Updated: Feb 22nd, 2022

Introduction

Even though in contemporary society all people are encouraged to be tolerant and respectful towards everyone, individuals that represent various minority groups do not receive proper treatment. LGBT community members, African Americans, and people with disabilities do not have a possibility to express themselves, are judged by society, constantly receive comments that decrease their self-esteem, and even suffer from physical abuse. For this reason, it is important to educate the world about the rights and freedoms of minority groups and make them understand that they are the same people as everyone else. Even though some people state that social platforms “make people believe that they are making a difference when they really aren’t,” it is suggested that the media should be trusted to change individuals’ perceptions of minorities (Lei, 2018). Therefore, the following paper will support this opinion by stating that media can raise awareness about the problem, break the existing stereotypes, and help the affected to feel the support.

Raising Awareness

One of the benefits of various types of media, such as television, radio, and social networks, is the fact that they have all the power to raise awareness about a specific problem. In case the chosen platform is used appropriately, and the information is represented effectively, individuals can receive a substantial amount of knowledge and become interested in the issue. Thus, when it comes to managing the challenges that surround different minority groups, media can be an essential tool. As suggested by Lei (2018), U.S. citizens believe in “social media’s ability to help enact political change” because it contributes to the delivery of necessary information to the population and assists in starting social movements (para. 8). A prime example is the Black Lives Matter trend that has inspired millions of individuals to engage in word-of-mouth communication and share hashtags on their social accounts (Lei, 2018). Consequently, media is important because it raises awareness about the discrimination of minority groups.

Breaking Stereotypes

In addition to informing the general public about the struggles and violence that marginalized groups have to go through, media can help to break stereotypes about them. By including LGBT characters and people from different religions in movies and TV series, professionals can contribute to the delivery of an idea that they are the same people as everyone else. However, an important point that should be mentioned is that this strategy can only work when careful research is conducted and the individuals are portrayed in an appropriate way. When the representations of people are free from prejudice, subjectivity, stereotypes, and false information, the perceptions of the viewers can easily be shifted towards the positive side, and humans can be encouraged to treat everyone respectively.

Helping the Affected

Media can not only be effective in educating the population about minority groups but also help the affected to achieve self-confidence. While using the strategy of supporting and standing for the rights of various religions’ representatives, LGBT community members, and disabled people, media platforms can develop feelings of security and protection in those people. For instance, it is not a secret that gays and lesbians constantly face discrimination and abuse from the public (Meyer, 2015). If the media covers the topic of homophobia and violence and represents the interest of LGBT individuals, they might feel less pressure from society and be less afraid to express themselves.

An Opposite View

Despite all the facts stated above, many people believe that media cannot be trusted to change individuals’ perceptions about minority groups. They are sure that instead of standing for the members of those communities, they show stereotypes that create skewed opinions. Taking Muslims as an example, they are “frequently liked with violence, terrorism, and aggression across American media outlets, including cable news” (Saleem & Ramasubramanian, 2019, p. 374). As a result, individuals develop a negative perception of Muslims and have trouble respecting and communicating openly with them.

Furthermore, marginalized groups are portrayed differently in various genres which makes it harder to find appropriate and trustworthy information about them. For instance, in such media creations as cartoons and comedy movies, the oppressed groups can be presented from a sarcastic point of view, which might make them disrespected. Reality shows and dramas usually show a more realistic picture and use information in an appropriate way. Therefore, in order to receive official and trustworthy knowledge people have to choose genres, they watch carefully.

From my personal experience, I can mention the reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. There are a few episodes from different seasons that cover the topic of African Americans and their oppression in contemporary society. By portraying the lives of real people and presenting credible information, this TV show seems to be a reliable source of information that raises awareness about an important issue.

Conclusion

Overall, one of the most serious problems that exist in the modern world is a distorted perception of minority groups’ representatives. These people have trouble expressing themselves, establishing relationships, and leading life in general. Hence, something should be done in order to manage the issue effectively. Despite the fact that media can contribute to the creation of skewed views, it has many benefits that can help those who are oppressed. The following paper proved that media should be trusted to change the perceptions of people about minority groups because it raises awareness, breaks stereotypes, and supports the affected.

References

Lei, C. (2018). Majority of black Americans value social media for amplifying lesser-known issues. Web.

Meyer, D. (2015). Violence against queer people: Race, class, gender, and the persistence of anti-LGBT discrimination. NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Saleem, M., & Ramasubramanian, S. (2019). Muslim Americans’ responses to social identity threats: Effects of media representations and experiences of discrimination. Media Psychology, 22(3), 373-393. Web.

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