Tag Archives: Stereotypes

The Norm

I admit, this post is a premature one considering I have not finished reading this novel yet. However, in that being said, I am already struck with the idea that suspicion surrounds Nick because of his persona and actions during his wife’s (Amy’s) disappearance. Granted the police have to start somewhere and of course, it is those closer to the victim who are always suspected first. But, the concept just got me thinking of how people are perceived and how important those perceptions really are in certain situations.

“The news reports would show Nick Dunne, husband of the missing woman, standing metallically next to his father-in-law, arms crossed, eyes glazed, looking almost bored as Amy’s parents wept. Then worse. My long time response, the need to remind people I wasn’t I dick, I was a nice guy despite the affectless stare, the haughty douchebag face. So there it came, out of no where, as Rand begged for his daughter’s safe return: A killer smile” – pg 64

Not going to lie, that killer smile makes him seem pretty guilty right? So what does this all have to do with the title, “The Norm”? Well think about it, if we don’t act/react the way society dictates us to, we’re perceived as weird and depending on the situation, guilty. See, the thing with Nick is that he was taught to hide emotion, to hide it from his father and the world because quite frankly, emotion was a sign of weakness. So maybe his way of dealing with it is to not show his inner turmoil. So is it fair to deem people as scrupulous in nature if they do not meet our reaction standards? I mean you have to admit, categorizing people based on their reactions/actions is a well-oiled survival mechanism allowing us to instantly distance ourselves from a potentially shaky individual. But again I say, is it fair?

As I said before, I haven’t finished the book yet, so the question of whether Nick is guilty or not still hovers over me. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that no matter how guilty he appears to be, a Red Herring will be thrown in and give an unexpected twist. I’ll just have to find out for myself now won’t I.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
©Farrah Merza

Propelling Michael Phelps

Right now I’m watching a news broadcast on the jaw dropping (and not in a good way) results of Michael Phelps’ 400 IM event in the London 2012 Olympics; the same prodigy athlete who dominated swimming in the 2008 Olympics. Now when I say dominated, I mean won by a ridiculous amount of time, every single time. It really was a genuine treat to witness such mind-numbing, perpetually achieved victories. But oh how the tides have turned. According to the article “London 2012: Michael Phelps admits he swam a ‘crappy race’ vs. Ryan Lochte” in the National Post, Lochte beat Phelps by 4 seconds in the 400 IM event. Yikes!

Now back to the broadcast. The anchors and specialists were not only talking about how disappointed fans must have been, but also touched on the reason as to why the disappointment was so intense. Ever since that picture of Phelps smoking marijuana surfaced, his career and reputation took a nosedive. They went on to state that the North American culture is to “propel people on a pedestal too quickly”, thus causing an intense negative reaction when they fail to meet our standards…

To me, this sounds all too familiar as I did write about a similar subject in a previous post of mine called The Plight that is Teaching. Needless to say, I could not stop grinning as I witnessed this theme weaving its way through this broadcast and how it was taken one step further. In my post, I had talked about how we tend to do this to our teachers, but of course this can be applied to our idols whether they are celebrities or teachers.

To be honest, I think we need to keep things in perspective and not put our idols through ridiculous standards. Once we realize that they are indeed human beings as well, we don’t risk suffering needless, severe blow to our psyche.

Rose-Tinted Glasses

As I sit here, re-reading my last post, I picture myself writing as the dewy-eyed girl that I was who saw the world through rose-tinted glasses. Case and point: I wanted to be friends with everyone “in the whole entire world” (as I remember myself clearly saying when I was much shorter and younger), not realizing how challenging that would really be. For instance: You will have to be extra careful of what you converse about in hopes of not offending anyone and avoiding the drama that will surely follow, and think about the amount of time you will have to spend socializing with EVERYONE “in the whole entire world”, etc. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. (NOTE: To my friends now, I love you and do not feel burdened by you so don’t be mad! I love socializing with you, really!)

Back to the point and steering you away from this incessant rambling…

As I was reminded by a fellow blogger stfallen (check out his blog!), our stereotypes, labels, and stigmas we have of others are more deeply rooted in our perception, not just in instinct. This is why propaganda works so well as it aims at our perceptions of the world around us. Political, religious, and other social propaganda endanger us all, turning best friends into mortal enemies and peaceful nations into waring ones… aka the force which is powerful enough to derail us from the progress we are making. Don’t doubt me on this, because it’s true. Just think back in history and of the intensity of the marginalization of people. Now, compare that to today’s society. See, progress, especially in more metropolitan areas due to the influx of immigrants.

Now I know that most Canadians take pride in our Multiculturalism thanks to our charismatic leader (in the past), Pierre Trudeau. We have assimilated it into the Canadian identity, aka what it means to be Canadian. This mentality makes it easier for most of us to tolerate those who are different. Unfortunately, this is not the case with other countries. So it is my hope that eventually, this concept of coexistence will reach those countries and progress takes root in their fertile soil.

Stigmas, Stereotypes, & Labeling… Oh My!

It was about time I touched on this subject. I really have the numerous sociology courses I took during my undergrad to thank for this as this subject was constantly brought up. You have to admit that they play a vital role in today’s society. But, let me explain: As I wrote about in a previous post of mine called Inescapable Judgement, I briefly mentioned that judgement could very well be a survival mechanism deeply rooted in our primal instinct to avoid danger. It’s necessary, but highly problematic. As a result of this desire to be safe, it is often the case that certain groups are marginalized and pushed aside because we deem them unsafe. Unfortunately, their potential to grow and change is squashed like a bug. What’s worse is that fighting these stereotypes, labels, and the stigmas associated with them can prove to be difficult; almost like fighting quicksand. Unless you get someone to throw you a rope and pull you out, the earth will swallow you whole. Dismal, noh?

However, I feel that things are changing for the better as more and more people educate themselves. It doesn’t have to necessarily be in this field of study, but just by going through the education system. I say this because now, going through our education system will expose people to different individuals orginating from different subcultures who might have broken the mold of their group’s particular stereotype, thus diminishing the stigma and label attached to their said group. (NOTE: Now I’m sure that there are plenty of people who do not share my optimism and can argue the opposite. I would genuinely love to hear that side, so please share!)

But here’s the thing, breaking down stigmas, stereotypes, and labels won’t happen overnight. It just can’t because, like I said before, it is instinctually ingrained in us to group similar people together and label them. We want to be safe, period. It’s only inevitable that stigmas set in. However, I truly believe that we are heading in the right direction IF nurtured properly… I just hope we don’t get derailed any time soon.