The Devolution of Society

by Fathima Haseefa

Twenty years ago ten-year-olds had no idea what strip clubs were. Now, in 2014, kids even know how to twerk. Twerking became popular when Miley Cyrus, who used to work for Disney, introduced it to her young fans. Recently, Miley has appeared in and promoted raunchy music videos such as “Wrecking Ball.” Are these the kind of “role models” our innocent children should be exposed to? Changes are being made globally every second of the day, whether it be in pop culture, science, or politics, but have you ever stopped to consider their effects? Are we really headed in the “right” direction, or is social media blurring our moral boundaries? These are a few questions many of us have never considered. We have witnessed an erosion of society’s moral compass, and popular media’s glorification of profanity, violence, and immodesty is the culprit for that erosion.

The prevalence of profanity and violence in popular media affects youth to their detriment by deadening their minds. Not only is profanity flooding social media posts, but it has also become rampant in songs, movies, and TV shows. A number of musical artists, including Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj, often incorporate profanity in their songs. Similarly, many of today’s popular TV shows, such as Supernatural and Pretty Little Liars, now feature both vulgar language and violence. As young children are repeatedly exposed to violent programing on TV or profane music on the radio, they gradually become desensitized to it. On the other hand, some may suggest that people are more profane because they are free to speak their minds and the world today is much more tolerant, but innocent children are now harmed because of this freedom as they become more susceptible to profanity and more prone to violence and, thus, lose their sense of sympathy and decency. What sets us apart from the uneducated if we use such vulgar and indecent language to swear at our fellow human beings? In a well-educated society like ours, we should be able to communicate effectively without resorting to profanity.

Since violent language and violent actions go hand in hand, the profanity and violence we are exposed to in media often translates into bullying. Bullying has been a problem for decades, but it no longer only involves fist fights and repulsive words. Now, in the 21st century, bullying has taken on a high-tech, virtual role. Social media opens many new doors for potentially unacceptable behavior. Teenagers today often bully their peers simply because of how they dress. For example, students who wear ethnic clothing like headscarves often face hostility, as do kids who merely lack the provisions to dress in the latest fashions. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, one in two youth have experienced some form of cyber threats online, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. The emotional toll on teens who are tortured on a daily basis even drives many to suicide. In fact, one in ten cyberbully victims attempt suicide, according to the CyberBully Hotline. It is clear that many youth can’t cope with the social and emotional demands of social media.

Just as society’s tolerance of new forms of bullying is a moral failing, our perceptions of fashion as broadcast in popular media demonstrate that society is also losing its sense of modesty. The trends have been getting progressively more scandalous, with seductive mini skirts, low-cut tops, and tight, form-fitting clothes perceived as the norm in today’s world. These increasingly immodest fashion trends provide a major distraction and pose an increased risk of harassment. However, some may argue that young ladies and gentlemen who wear provocative clothing are simply expressing their individuality. Despite this freedom of clothing choices, provocative clothing makes many people feel uncomfortable and reflects a society with loose morals. Society is constantly bombarded by advertisements and pictures showing us how we are “supposed” to dress. Perhaps it’s time for a new trend? A trend where skimpy clothes are no longer the popular choice and people are confident, clad in modest clothing.

Humanity is losing its moral compass, descending into a downward spiral. By showcasing profanity and violence, allowing cyber bullying through social media, and accentuating provocative clothing styles, popular media has been the culprit of this moral corruption. But it’s not too late to turn the tides. As Chaucer once said in his Canterbury Tales, “it’s better late than never.”

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