The International

The International

The International



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For GenZ not all voices are valid 

No one wants to listen to what opposing sides have to say, and refusing to listen is indeed a form of silencing. 

GenZ loves diversity in race, sexuality, gender, and identity, political views?

Not so much. 

Cancel culture has taken social media platforms by storm, and everybody is afraid of it. We have made it clear that we do not mind taking away their followers, their fame, their sanity. It’s “think like us or be canceled”, and it is terrifying. 

I first encountered the phenomenon when an awkward exchange of nervous looks commenced when one of our friends had “come out” as a right-wing conservative. Subsequently, she was met with a slew of hostile comments about how her opinions were completely wrong. No, we didn’t stop talking to her or unfollow her, but we stopped talking about politics, offline and online. I hate to admit it, but we silenced her, undoubtedly making her feel like she shouldn’t be having the opinions that she did.

I thought I could talk to my friends about politics and make each other aware of the kind of world we lived in, but we had taken that away from ourselves. 

Yet, what struck me then was the countless times I have seen my father take on heated debates with his closest friends who have polar opposite views than him one minute and clap each other’s backs to share a drink the next. It’s not because they came to a unanimous agreement, ever. They understood that others see and think differently, and let them voice that. Because it doesn’t make your own opinion any less important by letting and, most importantly, listening to others speak. How my friends and I handled something that should be so common, even encouraged, was day and night to the culture that our parents shared. 

With all this being said, why are we like this? 

In the age of social media, nothing is organic. Algorithms are carefully curated with content “for-you”, content you most likely will interact with, and will most likely agree with. It has become a barricade for us to grow multiple schools of thought because we rarely have an opportunity to converse and interact with opinions that oppose our own. What’s worse is that the content from the opposite spectrum we interact with on social media is often overly exaggerated or an outright bigoted representation of the other side. We are constantly being validated by our Instagram feeds that our way is the right way. 

While I am delighted that we are more passionate about social issues than any generation ever before and have access to the blessing—or curse— that is social media to amplify our voices, we still have a lot to learn when it comes to diversity, more than we might think. 

So is this it? Is free speech dying a slow death at the hands of GenZ?

If this attitude persists, I’m afraid so. It’s not about being unable to voice opinions. It is about creating an atmosphere in which no one wants to listen to what opposing sides have to say, and refusing to listen is indeed a form of silencing. 

This is nothing irreversible. We simply need to realize that safeguarding free speech holds greater importance than proving you are right by silencing others. We need to break the cycle of constant canceling. No one is making anyone agree with others who have a different opinion. It is even okay to think they are wrong; there’s just no need to be hostile about it. And it is not justifiable in any sense of the word to silence anyone. 

If you don’t agree with me on that, I welcome you to say otherwise. I’m listening. 

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