Advertising
Advertising

An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society

Dear society,

Today I would like to talk to you – the craftsman who are providing the pioneers of tomorrow with the tools to take this world on headstrong and make it better for the generations to follow. How far do you really think we have come in the 21st century?

It has been for a while now that I have seen what we are truly capable of, what we have always been capable of: War, genocide, animal cruelty, child abuse, inequality due to gender and race and many other atrocities that, in order to list them it would take me until the next Olympics – that is, if I am lucky enough. It seems as if William Golding had it right when he wrote Lord of the Flies with the intention of making it clear that mankind is and will always be torn between two opposing forces: Savagery vs Civilization.

Many, including myself have hoped that with light carriers such as Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama; and the warriors such as Gloria Steinmann, Marian Wright Edelman, Harry Hay and Roy Wilkins – that we have learned to move past all that has divided us, all that has chained and oppressed us. However, with the latest look at the shocking statistics of bullying, I see this is not the case.

Bullying is the root of our problems

In comparison to all the other problems humanity face, bullying might seem small and insignificant, when in fact, it is the core of it all.

Advertising

The Free Dictionary defines bullying as: “A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.”

Stopbullying defines it as: “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Yet, the notion that it is only the small, weak and young who are bullied has long since been demolished and it has spread to wider waters where anyone out there swimming against the stream with individualism or liberation, anyone who defies the societal rules that mankind has used to bar others in, are threatened and abused.

When did we sink so low?

My frustration of this stems from a recent incident that has happened in South Africa, where a lady (married I might add) felt the need to spice up her sex life and send her husband a picture of her genitals. Unfortunately she sent it to her child’s Sports Moms group message – and some “lady”, who most likely likes attention and wanted to have the approval in the form of laughter from her husband and friends, – deemed it fit to publish it on social media for all the world to see.

Advertising

An honest mistake from her part – and no, I am not talking about the spicy selfie – ends up ruining the life of a family who no longer can show their faces anywhere. All of this because one person felt the need to feel empowered and accepted by humiliating another.

When did we sink this low? When did the downgrading of someone start bringing us the pleasure of being in a superior position to others and in on the latest scandal with no thought as to how this can drastically change the life of the person that we are bullying?

Don’t give in to being someone you’re not

Have we stopped a moment to consider the lethal ripple effect of our actions? The ripple effect of choosing to stomp someone down in the ground for being a liberated individual – something we wish we could be, but are too cemented in the system of trying to impress those around us with our looks, possessions and wit to even try and become our true selves.

Why do we find it so easy to contribute to the low self-esteem of others, to their depression, their suicide thoughts and attempts, their fears and anxieties, their disorders and their rage? No wonder we are in one of the worst global situation that mankind has ever seen. We are filled with hate and prejudice; with selfish desires and no thought as to what I could do to help my fellow brother or sister.

Advertising

To you who read this and have experienced the persecution, oppression, torment and abuse of another. I apologize on behalf of all those who deemed it fit to break you down because your power of individuality scared them. My advice to you is to stay strong, do not let the world break you, tame you and shape you into something you were never born to be. I urge you to look at all the other individuals who refused to succumb to society and became successful and inspirational individuals.

Individuals such as David Bowie, who Billboard deemed the “Rebel who changed the face of music,” and Lady Gaga a unique and visionary girl that was bullied, rejected and made feel like a “freak” in school, later considered one of Time Magazines 100 most influential People in the World. There is a wonderful article on Lady Gaga’s triumph by Esperanza magazine I would encourage you to read.

Change is near

Did you know you have the ability to help and inspire people? That you have the ability to be a blessing? Do not sacrifice that opportunity by allowing those who do not understand you, to change you. I apologize that we have become a society that feeds on the defeat of others and that we have become to self-involved to even notice it or care.

To those who have been partakers in the ongoing battle of the bullies, or even just those who have merely been the straight-laced observers of the injustices that take place: Your time of abuse, ignorance and of being nonchalant is coming to an end. It might not be today, nor tomorrow – but it is coming.

Advertising

There will be a generation that will stand up like all the other freedom fighters mentioned above and fight for the oppressed and afflicted, a generation that chooses acceptance over prejudice, and a generation that chooses love above hate. It won’t start off as something big – it will be the small refreshing breeze that makes you aware of its presence and you will feel it gently, yet deliberately change into something bigger, stronger – a gale that brings about a tropical storm.

As Marjane Satrapi says in her Vogue interview with Emma Watson: “The only thing that can change the world is the slow evolution of culture.”

This evolution is approaching – it starts with those willing to stand up, change themselves for the better and fight for the abused.

I leave you with more words from the inspirational Marjane Satrapi: “From now on I’m going to change myself, and if I change myself, I have changed a little bit of this world. I will try to be a better person.”

I hope and pray that we all will start being better people, people whose intrinsic nature stem out of love – it is the only way we will be able to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and the generation to follow.

Featured photo credit: Rachal Baran via inspirationde.com

More by this author

Bianca Gouws

Freelance Writer, Director and Actress

7 Things to Remember When Dating an INFJ A Call To Women Everywhere: It Is Time to Arise and Take Back Your Glory is Now How To Support The Infertile Loved One An Open Letter To The 21st Century Society 5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Go on that Road Trip

Trending in 20-Something

1 7 Tools to Optimize Your Next Long-Term Traveling Experience 2 How To Go Through College And Stay Sane 3 The Battle Of The Voices In My Head 4 How to Have the Best Spring With Your Pets 5 5 Effective Ways to Increase your Instagram Followers

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next