Building upon the knowledge from the last post, stereotyping contributes to in-group-out-group bias. A notion we have normalized so much these days that we are blind to how harmful it is. We intentionally mistreat out-groups because it gives us a sense of pleasure or a perceived one. A notion labelled schadenfreude; “pleasure derived by someone from another person misfortune.” For those who have yet to experience this or believe they haven’t, after reading this post, you may have a different answer.
Stereotyping as fuel
In the last post, we saw that stereotyping initially was a tool for survival. Early man used it to label harmful elements within nature and eventually onto other humans, but as time went by, it has morphed into a tool for discrimination. Instead of giving someone a chance to show their true colours, we immediately look at them through all the stereotypes that cross our mind. From the minute someone catches our eye on the street, in a store or car next to us, the stereotypes fly and alter our movement pattern, mood, even our energy field.
Since we are so unaware of this process happening the cycle keeps repeating itself. Thus, fueling the creation of more in-group-out-group bias, which in turn leads to more negative talk as well as actions towards others. The sad part is the person on the receiving end is a decent person and has done nothing wrong other than being associated with one stereotype or another. At least that’s how it is the majority of the time and from my own experience.
It’s one thing for us to use the fuel and another to know that apart of the bias is to ease competition and maintain positive self-esteem. Two things that we should be able to control without the need to treat someone differently or harshly who does not deserve it, especially when it comes to self-esteem. Self-esteem should come from internal acceptance and validation, instead of notions made up by the mind. (A full post on self-esteem coming soon)
That said, in some cases, schadenfreude occurs as a by-product of the in-group bias, which is pivotal in the grand scheme of things. We are gaining pleasure from someone else’s misfortune because they are no longer our equal even though they share core similarities. For the most part, this notion was primarily a product of racial attacks, but now it spans much further than that. We see it at sports games between rival fans, between different tiers of wealth amongst many other labels. I like to think that this is an unconscious action rather than a conscious, intentional one, but that could be because of my own biases.
However, as mentioned in the first post of the series, stereotyping and in-group bias serve to normalize label culture. The normalized animosity judgement and negativity toward one another is not ok. No matter how we aim to justify these practices. The cycle will not end until each person can see the stages happening. From using stereotypes to navigate day to day life or in-group biases to validate themselves and their group, I know it’s difficult, to think in this way, but it’s necessary for change. Hence, the last post of the series will provide tips and tricks to help minimize the buzzing stereotypes as well as in-group biases we have.