Washington Post —June 29, 2015
More than 26 million people have changed their Facebook picture to a rainbow flag. Here’s why that matters.
Given our work this afternoon on ideology and how we come to learn about the norms and assumptions of our dominant culture, I found this article from the Washington Post today a perfect punctuation mark.
See, our social attitudes are informed largely by what we believe is standard or acceptable in our social group as a whole. And every day, whether we realize it or not, we receive lots of different messages on these norms: some unspoken (I can’t come to work naked), some based in law (I can’t kill even my most-hated commenters), some very literal (“buckle up,” “just say no”).
Profile pictures, arguably, are a very particular and effective type of message. They don’t dictate how you should or must behave, as laws and PSAs typically do; instead, they simply tell you how your peers are behaving. In other words, they support marriage equality; why don’t you?
“When people try to change behavior, they often focus on … telling people what they should do,” the social psychologist Melanie Tannenbaum explained in 2013. “We often underestimate just how strongly we respond to what other people actually do.”