Is that progress? Rather than being an accurate representation of society, media instead amps up every tolerance issue into a crisis - race, endorsing or desiring to suppress free speech, same sex marriage versus those who don't want to do business with someone the same way they can refuse service for any other reason - San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean M. Twenge notes that among all that desire to generate page views and eyeballs on TVs by magnifying the bad things, Americans are actually more tolerant than ever before. In 2008, the Obama administration was against gay marriage, now he endorses it.
In Social Forces, Twenge, Nathan T. Carter and Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia, found that Americans are more likely than ever to accept that people with different views and lifestyles.
"When old social rules disappear, people have more freedom to live their lives as they want to, and Americans are increasingly tolerant of those choices," said Twenge. "This goes beyond well-known trends such as the increasing support for gay marriage. People are increasingly saying that it's OK for those who are different to fully participate in the community and influence everyone else."
The researchers used data from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of adult Americans conducted from 1972 to 2012. The survey includes a series of questions related to tolerance of people with controversial views or lifestyles including homosexuals, atheists, militarists, communists and racists. Only tolerance for racists has decreased over time, showing people today are less tolerant of the intolerant.
Racism is practically non-existent compared to decades ago, we even have a special class of crime, a hate crime, which says that if a minority is killed it is somehow more heinous than if a white person is killed. Incidents of racism on college campuses, like the University of Oklahoma recently, are shocking to Americans, but they happen at football games in Europe on a daily basis.
So why does American media talk about it so much?
The difference may be generational. The Baby Boomers now running media corporations and editorial departments may still feel like it is 1964, even if it is not. And activists can play on that sympathy. The survey results showed that Generation X and Millennials are very tolerant compared to their parents and grandparents. Though Millennials are less empathetic and more dismissive than previous generations, they are still more tolerant.
"Tolerance and empathy are not the same thing," Twenge said. "Millennials believe that everyone can live their lives as they want to -- thus, they are tolerant -- but that doesn't always extend to taking someone else's perspective or feeling empathy."
- Americans Are More Politically Independent, More Polarized Than Ever
- Millennials Like Sexual Freedom, But Cheating On Your Spouse Is Still A No-No
- Studies You Don't Need To Read: Doubts About The President's Birth Were Racism
- Implicit Association Test: Are You Secretly Racist? (Hint: You Are)
- Science Education, Where We're Happiest In Despair