You know that saying “I think I speak for all of us when I say…” It’s nothing new, but I feel like the groups we’re claiming to speak for are growing in size. People are trying to speak for all people their gender, or all people in their political party, or all people with their disability, or all people within their subculture.
It’s mostly harmless, actually saying it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t bind people to your opinion if they don’t agree. After all, even if you try to speak for everyone you never will. People have free will and their own voice. So why does it matter?
Because our thoughts and words are powerful enough to change our own perception. They have the power to warp your mind, to make you believe that all people in a group agree, because after all the group that you’ve surrounded yourself with are like minded. Our bubble all agrees on something so why wouldn’t others? It becomes harder to understand when people disagree with you. It makes you more likely to dismiss them, to say that they are the outlier instead of the 50%.
Group statements not only make the topic black and white, but it changes your ideas on the topic. Suddenly different becomes wrong and rare, the tragic outliers. Suddenly there are wrong ways to be a woman, or a disabled person person, or just a person in general.
Putting people in boxes never helps anyone. It doesn’t help the person putting them there and it definitely doesn’t help the people you’re trying to shove in a box. It’s easy to agree that everyone is different, but that doesn’t just apply to those in your group and those outside of your group. People in your political party can have opinions that don’t match everyone else’s. People in your friend group might even disagree with you on something, but since you talk about it so definitely they keep quite, isolating themselves from the group a little farther.
It’s common for people to speak for the group, but let’s be honest, nobody can, so maybe it’s time we stop trying to.