The Way We Lie By Stephanie Ericsson

Essay, Research Paper

In the essay The Way We Lie, Stephanie Ericsson writes that “All the ‘isms’-racism, sexism, ageism, et al.-are founded on and fueled by the stereotype and the clich?, which are lies of exaggeration, omission, and ignorance. They are always dangerous. They take a single tree and make it a landscape.” This quote is important due to the fact that stereotypes play a major role in many aspects of our society. In American society we have a tendency to pass judgment on people just because of a pre-existing stereotype that our society has formed on particular groups over the years. American Society tends to create stereotypes because of the simplicity it adds to our lives, but stereotypes can cause us to oversimplify the characteristics of others, encourage prejudice, and can even create many more severe dangers.

Everyday we experience stereotyping in one way or another. Over the years stereotyping has become such a large part of our society that it is a vital part of our everyday communication. It has caused many of us to not really think about who a person really is, or what they are about, but to accept instead a certain stereotype that has already been created by our society and given to an individual. Stephanie Ericsson makes an excellent point in her essay when she says “they take a single tree, and make it into a landscape.” The statement she was trying to make by saying this is that many times, a stereotype is made by an individual because of something done by one particular person in a certain group, but is then given to the whole group as a result. Our society has given a stereotype to practically every form of human being out there. Some examples of this are the blond that is said to be dumb, the kid with glasses that is titled the “nerd”, and the person from a small town who is called a “hick”.

Why the need for such stereotypes? In her essay, Stephanie Ericsson makes the point that perhaps stereotyping is used as a sort of “short hand” in our society. Stereotyping has become something that we have found to be a vital part of our communication due to our need for information in the smallest possible amount of time. It is much easier for an individual to create a stereotype for another individual than it is to actually learn what they are like. You could spend one second looking at any individual walking down the road and create a stereotype on who they are, and what they are about. It takes real time and patience to actually look at an individual, talk to them, learn who they really are, and discover what they are really about. Patience is not a crucial part of judging others in our society mostly due to the popular usage of stereotypes. Also, because of our fast paced lives we have become immune to using patience to learn about the characteristics of others.

Stereotyping cannot only cause less of a need to get to know others, but can also become rather dangerous. Sometimes individuals pass stereotypes on certain people or groups that initiate anger and hate due to the origin of the stereotype. For example, the Ku Klux Klan is an organization that has been around for decades. This particular organization had a developed stereotype against black Americans that resulted in the death of hundreds of African Americans beginning in the early 1800’s. Though the Ku Klux Klan has died down to an extent in the past decade, other organizations and similar “hate groups” have developed over the years. These groups have created stereotypes concerning particular groups of people, be it African Americans, Italians, Irish people, or even women with blond hair. No matter who the individual is, as long as they belong to a particular stereotypical group, they are looked down upon. Do these individuals belonging to such “hate groups” really even know the particular people they are stereotyping? Most likely the the members do not know those they are hating any more than the person being stereotyped knows of the true reason for which they are being hated. People in our society really do not even know those individuals they are placing the stereotype on. For the fact that the stereotypical individual has not taken the time to get to know the stereotyped individual is the true reason for the stereotype. But no matter who the stereotyped individuals are, or where they are from, people will look down upon them and create more and more stereotypes on them, just because of the group they belong to. Like the crimes created against the African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan, similar crimes continue to be committed in our society everyday because of stereotypes. These crimes are called “hate crimes”, and are directed towards a particular individual not because of something he or she has done, but simply because of the group they belong to.

Hundreds of innocent people die each year due to a title that was created for them. Because of a stereotype that some other individual somewhere in our society created, and decided certain individuals belong, and should be hated for, innocent people in our society end up being killed. It is not fair for innocent people to die. Nor is it even fair for any individual to have to walk down the street, knowing that they are hated because of something that is beyond their control. Whether it be their skin color, hair color, appearance, or the way they walk, it can be a stereotypical characteristic that creates the risk of being judged by another individual, or perhaps even killed.



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