In a previous post, I had mentioned how our brain normalizes situations we once considered difficult and helps us achieve stretch goals. However, the same tendency has another, darker facet to it.
Four years ago, US democracy was sacrosanct. When a president in power was voted out, he made way for his successor with minimal fuss. In the last couple of months, all this has changed. The current president of the US, via several outrageous remarks, has normalized an attack on US democracy. Today, a large percentage of US citizens don’t believe in a democratic institution they have upheld and respected for centuries.
When a person of authority says or does something outrageous, they normalize the sentiment they espouse. The brains of the people around them is soon to forget what it believed for decades and is quick to subscribe to a new paradigm – one that starts off sounding outrageous, but is soon normalized. Politicians have long known this tendency and use it to pander to their vote bases by continuously push the boundaries of what is acceptable to say.
Left unchecked, normalization can be misused to corrode our culture. This applies just as much to a boss making a ‘harmless’ sexist joke as it does to a politician who spews venom and hatred.