The scapegoat theory holds that prejudice originates from frustration among those who themselves are likely disadvantaged. Thus, these suppressed people may feel “relatively safe” to direct their anger at a person or group, which holds little power while making the subjugated even feel superior to their chosen scapegoat.
The scapegoat theory is noteworthy because it is a common pitfall that is widely evident in our society. Scapegoating has returned vigorously and has been somewhat normalized. Upon personal reflection, the scapegoat theory is a concept that I have witnessed throughout my life.
Growing up in a rural and closed-minded town, it dawned upon me, early and often, that I did not feel rage, hate, disdain, nor a reason to blame a stranger for any of my challenges or problems. When I left that town and entered the big world, it became apparent that my thought process was not weird nor all that uncommon. In fact, many people along my journey shared my view that knowledge, understanding, and getting to know someone was a better way than jumping to irrational and unsupported conclusions.
During my hopelessly optimistic days, there was hope that the internet and social media would expand our collective knowledge, encourage us to learn, and maybe increase understanding of the plight of distant strangers. In recent years, it has become evident that prejudice, misunderstanding, and scapegoating is alive and thriving.
In the short term, my outlook for scapegoating is grim.
However, it is often the darkest of times that precede and maybe even spark significant positive breakthroughs. Consider, that the internet is still relatively new and it’s continually evolving. I remember first getting “online” back in the mid to late 1990’s. At the time, it was a welcomed source of information that allowed news of breaking events to be instantly disseminated throughout the world. Not only could the news be spread, but it could also be discussed with friends, families, or even strangers. But the internet has changed during the last 20-years along with other technology and the world itself.
As with most changes, there have been and will continue to be “growing pains.” The current online environment has become sophisticated and even deceptive. It has been infiltrated and exploited by criminals, propagandists, and others with questionable motives. As such, there has been a rise of online misinformation, hatred, scapegoating and deepening division. This environment is made worse because the online truth has come to mean anything one wishes to believe.
It is unreasonable to think that technology created new hatred or scapegoating (as it was always there) but today’s hate is being both reinforced and exposed. Although today looks grim—the outlook calls for sunny conditions.
Sure, due to recent circumstances the current state of the American culture is fragmented, and many Americans (to include many in power) utilize the scapegoat theory to rally support for their agenda. However, the best way to defeat such terrible ideology is to allow it to be heard. The louder their voice, the more others will wake up to what they are saying.
As I examine the state of affairs, two things stand out. The first, most of those that rely on scapegoats are from those that seek to bring the “good ole’ days” back. It’s somewhat ironic; the Baby-Boomer generation is quick to label the youth of today as being sick, weak, or as simple branded “snowflakes.” YUGE underestimation of today’s youth! This group is different than the generation they will replace.
This assembly is bright, articulate, and most importantly far less interested in racism and sexism. In fact, just the opposite. They have grown up in the internet age and have been exposed to much more diversity in their young lives through technology. So, my outlook remains positive as I look forward to waving the sociopathic generation known as the Baby Boomers of into the sunset.
When today’s history has been written, it will be apparent who stood on the right side.