Social Construct (Word For The Week)
A social construct is the meaning, notion, or connotation placed on an object or event by a society, and adopted by the inhabitants of that society with respect to how they view or deal with the object or event.
In simpler terms, a social construct is an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society.
It is what people have agreed or supposed to be normal.
In recent times, whenever people disagree with an idea or concept, rather than put up an argument in defense of their position, they instead argue that it is all a social construct.
My question now is “what isn’t a social construct?”
If we will be honest with ourselves, everything around us is a social construct. Nothing isn’t.
Let me start with the concept of nothing.
Do you know that in mathematics, there didn’t use to be zero? Rather than writing zero, they just left that spot empty.
Zero wasn’t zero, it was nothing.
Then mathematicians decided to create zero. Why?
At that point, mathematics was already centuries old. It had traveled across civilizations. The Romans had even embraced Arabic numerals.
Yet, they saw the need to adjust their understanding of the present reality, then made a change that will reverberate through eternity.
Everything you can’t touch, everything that is an idea or a concept, is a social construct.
Monday is Monday because we agreed it is. Some countries have a five-day working week, others have a six-day working week.
At this point, some countries are already experimenting with a four-day working week. And that is all born out of research from the last decade. Nothing is cast in stone.
The law and the police only exist because we agreed they are a thing. Same with the government and the bank.
How many policemen and women do we have in this country? How many guns and bullets do you think they have?
Do you think the police can forcibly keep everyone obedient to the law? If the whole country decides not to obey the law, how long do you think it will take for every police officer to either give up or switch sides?
What about the army? Do you think they are ready to kill everyone because the government ordered them to?
And if the police and army no longer function as instruments of the law, is there still a country?
Look at countries where the banking system collapsed. Or where the government failed. What exactly happened there?
No matter what external forces did, no matter how bad things got, those institutions didn’t fail until the people stopped believing in them.
That is the power of social construct.
It is the basis of civilization, communication, banking, culture, tradition, religion, education, morality, and everything that differentiates the human from the animal.
So when you oppose something, just saying “it is a social construct” is not an argument.
The fact something is a social construct neither makes it good or bad. It simply means people of this locality have agreed to assign value to this thing.
And if we must be honest with ourselves, that is actually a positive rather than a negative.
Look for a more logical reason why you think this thing should be changed. Then argue your case.
As much as people fear change and are rooted in the familiar, they always want better.
The fact that you brought superior argument though doesn’t mean people will be ready to change overnight.
It took years to change people’s minds on slavery, as well as separation based on colors, religion, and gender.
There is a possibility it will take long for your argument to prevail. Depending on how deep-seated the original idea is, or how massive the cultural impact of your idea will be, it might take so long, you may not get to witness it.
Either way, if you believe in the change you want, the earlier you start to advocate for it, the likelier it will get accepted sooner.
What I want you to take away from this piece is that “it is a social construct” is never going to be why things will change.
Social constructs are a product of necessity. And only a new social construct will replace an old one.