Psychology: Language and social structure
Man is the only animal with sophisticated languages that we use to communicate. We are social animals, but despite the sophistication, we are also primitive.
We have primitive needs and instincts that are tribal affecting our behaviour. There is a pecking order and people are often required to ‘know their place’. Words describe offences against the social structure that we live in.
It can be a offence in law to denigrate another. We have laws that acknowledge the damage that can be done to our social standing by defamation, slander and libel. We are also required to show deference to people higher up in the pecking order than us. In a court of law, the judge sits high above the rest and people are required to politely submit to the will of the court.
We have words to insult one another; that suggest, that one is of lower status. Not long ago someone was suspended from Facebook for using the word ‘faggot’. It was seen as a term that denigrates, belittles and places the target of the abuse at the bottom of the social structure. In fact the word was being used to describe a spiced meatball. The actually meaning in some social circles had been lost. There are also words that are traditionally used denigrate women, whose meaning has been largely forgotten to the extent that even women themselves use these profanities, not realising that do themselves no favours.
Words have a powerful affect on us. We stigmatise whole sections of society with offensive words and they are offensive because they do denigrate people. They do have a negative effect on their status in society. Parents often get angry with their children for not showing them due deference; not knowing their place. They are then lambasted with words that denigrate them. They are accused of being bone idle, good for nothing and every aspect of their lives will often be criticised. Why does this happen? Perhaps it’s because the social rules have become blurred and people no longer have etiquette and little books on behaviour to help them adhere to the social rules of society. Perhaps it’s the decline in religion that is to blame for young people challenging the social rules and social norms of society?
We all need to have some respect for others, regardless of their perceived social status. In order to gain high status, it is necessary to be aware of the rules of polite behaviour. It is not enough to come from a good family or have a good education if you don’t have good manners and observe the rules of polite behaviour. It seems the rules are constantly changing and so called ‘soft skills’ are now required to function in society. The primitive macho attitude that ignores many of the conventions is no longer acceptable. The structure of society is complex and we have to be aware of the complexities. We have to try to be acceptable to our fellow tribal members. If we are different or behave differently they are likely to see us as some sort of social pariah and treat us as such. We all want to be individual, that can make us stand out from the crowd, but we need to be different in a way that makes gives us more status in society; not less. We want people to look up to us, not down on us.
Before you use offensive words to denigrate another, consider your own place in society and how their retaliation might affect how people perceive you. Tolerance and the avoidance of offensive language can elevate you to a higher position in society.
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