Column name: Bringing Dead Lines to Life
Columnist: Andrea D. Lim
We ‘die’ in the process of telling our concerns regarding the system to the public, even if these are true.
German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann was one of the people from the past who first attempted to understand this circumstance, which in time evolved. She presented the Spiral of Silence Theory last 1984. The theory explains how opinions are formed and why people are compelled to be silent on minority yet on point views. Neumann formulated this theory as she observed why during 1930s and 1940s, Germans seemed to support wrong political positions even if they were opposed to them, leading to their country’s downfall.
The theory presents three premises. First, we have this “sixth organ,” which allows us to detect public opinions, even without supporting proofs. Neumann also stated that we have a fear of isolation, and we know how we will most likely be isolated if we behave differently from what is generally accepted. Lastly, she connected this fear to our silence. We choose to not express some views because we fear not having someone share the same beliefs.
I believe that the media has been doing its job in exposing ugly truths that lead to the shaping of public opinion. Some events held in Silliman, together with college organizations and student government committees like STRAW, give the chance for people to express grievances. We are not voiceless; we have near avenues to exercise our right to express.
We go to these events and realize we are not alone in some battles. We have overcome the two premises, but the third premise is a truth still hard to deal with. And I have to revise it, too: We know we are not alone on our beliefs, but we fear that we are alone in doing something to change the system and experiencing the consequences of opposing to norms.
Apparently, we might be against injustices caused by authorities above us — from our parents to professors, from the people on the student government to the people on our own, respective organizations. These authorities might not be open to criticism. Worse, they might take our comments and suggestions as forms to attack them when our goal is to address loopholes and wrongdoings in the system. Thus, they use their power to intimidate, just to stop us from stating our opinions.
We want to be accepted by our loved ones. We want to have high grades. We want to graduate on time. We do not want to be subjected to sharp looks, mean laughs, intimidating social media posts, and unwanted publicity from co-Sillimanians — all forms of bullying just because what you believe in might hurt the ego of those involved.
It is like letting us know what is happening because transparency exists kuno, but we cannot question. It is like instilling fear of experiencing the wrath once we oppose. However, when censorship is present, transparency is absent.
So the current system has been producing comfortable and resilient people, because these are the generally-accepted traits by insincere authorities. Either we let the system mold us or we become martyrs whose deed is popular due to courage but whose footsteps must not be followed. We decide.~