Human beings are always trying to figure out how other people perceive them. Are they in? Or are they out? Will they be accepted by the group? Or rejected? We might call it the “crowd’s syndrome” in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes.
But even if you are one who sticks to your principles and defends your core beliefs when under attack, chances are you have a threshold for doing so. When the fear of social isolation or ostracism from a group kicks in, you may shift how you express your views. Or you may choose to remain silent even though your silence implies consent with the opposing view. If the group appears to be growing in numbers, we become even more susceptible to it.
And when we stop questioning even the strangest of cues from the group think, we’ve reached our threshold. We do this because ostracism is dangerous to our survival. Resisting it is a primal instinct. Yet your silence only serves to bury your view from sight. Then your silence serves only to shift all power away from yourself. This adds to a cascade effect in society. Ironically, you will end up even more isolated when your silence has done the work of separating you from others who share your view.
Separating people is the net effect of political correctness. And we’d do well to remember that “political correctness” is actually just a euphemism for thought policing.
The elites who wield politically correct agendas – whether in academia, in the media, or in Hollywood — know these social dynamics very well. They understand your fear of social isolation perhaps better than you do yourself. How else could they manipulate that fear so efficiently? People who simply wish to live and let live may be the majority, but we’re far less likely to take a clinical look at all of this. So we’re more likely to fall into the PC trap. We need to pay attention.
A fascinating work on this phenomenon is Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s book The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion — Our Social Skin” http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiral-Silence-Opinion-Edition/dp/0226589366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390336351&sr=8-1&keywords=elisabeth+noelle-neumann