The Bandwagon Effect Is Real And It's Hurting Our Society

The Bandwagon Effect Is Real And It's Hurting Our Society

We as a people are more desperate than anything to simply fit in with the masses.
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It's difficult to think that high school never really ends. We desperately want to believe that, when we turn our tassels and throw our caps in the air, all the drama is left behind in locker-lined hallways.

But, the truth is, it's really not. Drama and bullying are prevalent - even in the adult world. Even the college world.

I've noticed the overwhelming presence of something called "The Bandwagon Effect." A socially motivated psychological phenomenon, the Bandwagon Effect, motivates an individual to go along with the masses, regardless of their own personal beliefs. It is prevalent in all parts of our culture in all aspects.

The first time I noticed it was back in 2010 when Justin Bieber first emerged onto the scene. It was the "cool" thing to hate him. I only remember because my eleven-year-old self loved to do it. I would log onto Twitter and "favorite" endless amounts of anti-Bieber memes. All my guy friends made jokes at the singer's expense daily, and I never gave it a second thought. I laughed along, saying, "Yeah, Justin Bieber really does sound like a dying ____." And, I totally regret it. Because, honestly, I didn't think his music was awful. Yet, I still crapped on him daily and used him as the butt of endless jokes. Why?

Everybody wants to be in on it. We are social creatures. To have a different belief or idea, is to have something that sets you apart from the pack. More than anything, we human beings want to be like one another. Finding things that are "relatable" is what brings us closer together.

In recent years, the widely agreed upon laughingstock has been Donald Trump. Whether or not he really does deserve all the constant, pointed hate he gets is another story. Back when he first emerged into the political scene in 2015, it became almost a cultural running joke to make fun of him. People turned to picking apart his physical characteristics, criticizing the "Oompa Loompa" in office. Now that he's president, it's become more and more of a recurring rhetoric.

I shed light on these specific cases because of the concept of a "hate bandwagon," specifically towards a person, is the most harmful type there can be. (Maybe we can let the Donald Trump one slide, and maybe I'm contradicting myself there, but that's a whole other series of articles.) I've experienced it in middle school, and I definitely witnessed it in high school. When a single person makes a joke at someone's expense and another person laughs, it sets off a domino effect. Those in the immediate social vicinity laugh as well, keeping the joke going. They make fun not realizing what that means for the person they are bullying.

The Bandwagon Effect is interesting because it will cause a person to put aside who they are and what they believe in for the sole goal of not being left behind. It robs people of basic human decency and empathy. It catapults us back to a primal instinct. No one wants to be left out. Even at the expense of someone else.

Cover Image Credit: Huffpost

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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