According to a recent study, there is a majority of people who do not want to oppose the public opinion. As a result, they do not reveal what they actually think and instead they tend to express the favorable opinion. Even though this is not something that they agree on, it is much easier for them to go with the flow and not express something opposite to the norm.
This phenomenon is called “spiral of silence” and it has troubled scientists. Among them, Elizabeth Stoycheff from Wayne State University did not look well at the results of the study.
To be more specific, the study group was first given some questions regarding political views and personality details. Then, they were given the real questions that would monitor how they reacted. In the light of Edward Snowden and the continuous revelations related to mass surveillance, the people were prompted to answer how they feel about online surveillance acts.
What is really strange is the fact that most of the people answered that they do not care about that, since they have nothing to worry about – they are not breaking the law, after all.
It goes without even saying that such a nearly unanimous opinion cannot express the astonishing majority of people in the study group. On the contrary, many people are sure to feel strongly opposed to what online surveillance means. However, in order to fit in and avoid social isolation, they change their point of view and they agree with the widely accepted opinion.
The study was published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Elizabeth Stoycheff has analyzed the impact that such a report has on society itself. More specifically, she stated: “It concerns me that surveillance seems to be enabling a culture of self-censorship because it further disenfranchises minority groups.
And it is difficult to protect and extend the rights of these vulnerable populations when their voices aren’t part of the discussion. Democracy thrives on a diversity of ideas, and self-censorship starves it,” to continue on: “Shifting this discussion so Americans understand that civil liberties are just as fundamental to the country’s long-term well-being as thwarting very rare terrorist attacks is a necessary move.”
It is a matter of social behavior against radical differences and opposing to the accepted norm requires a lot of strength, as well as belief to social freedom and human rights altogether.