May 10, 2016

On words & preserving culture in SA

african motive ethnic retro vintage

According to the dictionary, culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. In South Africa we have a plethora of cultures, we are the rainbow nation after all,  and each person has a certain level of pride when it comes to their culture. This comes to light each day on social media as people get on a bandwagon of fire spitting hate speech every time that someones crosses the line of free speech and discrimination. If it is not Penny Sparrow, then it’s Matthew Theunissen or Mabel Jansen, or the next sorry victim who opens their mouth and spews racist or discriminatory comments in the belief  that they have the right to do so with freedom of speech and all that. The fact is that we do need to be careful of what we say, because our democracy is still young and people are still dealing with the horrible wrongs that were done unto them. I also think that the kind of response has a lot to do with the context that things are said in. If you have something on your heart, don’t go and blurt it out on a tweet or Facebook status, because you will feel the heat and regret it, rather have a conversation with someone (in real life) and try to figure out if your stance is accurate before you even consider posting it online, which I still would not suggest.

We need to make sure that we preserve these cultures that we defend so readily, because they are slowly dying away.

I don’t know about you, but when you read some of the comments in reaction to these “not-so-clever/racist” statements on social media, and you realize that some people are just saying things for the fact of saying it instead of actually contributing to resolve the issue, and before you know it the whole situation just spirals out of control.We are all so obsessed with the fighting negative attitudes (often with more negative attitudes) that we are slowly losing touch of what is really important. We need to make sure that we preserve these cultures that we defend so readily, because they are slowly dying away.With mass media growing stronger each day, more and more of us are letting go of ideas that we once were proud of and in place we are taking on a very  globalized/ Americanized identity. We watch American TV shows, listen to American music, wear American brands, use American words, so where has the South African in us gone?

I’m not saying that we can’t adopt aspects from other cultures, that’s how humanity functions, all I’m saying is that we should also make an effort to preserve our roots, because that is also a big part of who we are. Most importantly we should respect each other’s differences in stead of trying to break each other down. How about we try to understand another person’s culture and perspective, instead of criticizing it, and if you do have something to say about it after you’ve gathered your information, say it in a civil manner to someone that could appreciate it.


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