People can unlearn the toxic things they used to believe 

A recent trend on Twitter had people listing down the things they used to believe when they were younger and show how those beliefs have changed over the years. It was started by one user asking for the harmful ideas we used to hold but don’t anymore, in order to prove a point. The trend blew up and everyone began talking about their old prejudices and the new people they’ve become. Ultimately, what it did was show that it is a fallacy to think that people can’t change.

Some Twitter users talked about being homophobic — how they genuinely believed it was wrong to be queer, or couldn’t be comfortable with displays of overt sexuality. But by being exposed to different lifestyles and coming out of their own shells they saw their own mistakes. Others shared their previously sexist views, like accepting that there is a ‘proper’ way for women to dress or thinking women as less capable than men. The generally more progressive tones of society have worked to alter their views on what women can and can’t do.

(Let’s stop shaming women for what they choose to wear)

So, what does it mean if people can go from being homophobic, sexist, racist, or whatever and transform into a decent human being? For one, it shows that no one is beyond help. Even the most ingrained beliefs can be altered — it’s not enough to excuse ideologies by saying that that’s what they grew up regarding as truth. The average reasonable person is capable of critical thinking, and they can use that critical thinking to question and change their misguided beliefs.

This matters because we ought to allow people the space to grow, make mistakes, and eventually learn from them. We cannot condemn people outright for sticking to misinformed opinions and damaging beliefs when they don’t know any better. They have to be given the opportunity to know better, first. They have to be given the chance to change.

(Let’s talk about toxic friendships and why they need to be cut off)

Recent phenomena would have you believe we all live in non-impenetrable echo chambers. That the only news we see are those that confirm our biases, and the only people we talk to are those who share our views. This would essentially make us unmovable beings. But this is a self-fulfilling prophecy — it only becomes true because we already believe people are lost causes.

Instead of making the effort to hold healthy discussions on points of disagreement, we tend to bash beliefs that don’t align with ours. We call out and send hate to people who would most benefit from seeing another perspective. People are judged and condemned for beliefs before they can even think things through. But we can all unlearn toxic ideals — as long as we’re given the space to. 

(Let’s talk about ‘cancel culture’ online and why it has to stop)

What are the ‘toxic’ things you’ve unlearned over the years? Share them with us in the comments! 

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