Maybe we can’t help being bad

Clayton Mitchell

I have recently backed away from social media websites because of the platform they provide for people to argue, bully and be hateful toward others.

For some reason, people treat the Internet like a mesh screen door where they can yell at people through the screen, disagreeing with them on all sorts of issues with the response being more yelling, but never any personal interaction.

Some of these people believe in things enough that they would argue about them in the real world as well, but many of them do not.

So why are some people so mean to others?

In my first semester at OCCC, in the fall of 2013, I took American Federal Government POLSC 1113 with professor Sharon Vaughan. In the very first class, to spark discussion, Vaughan asked the class if humans were inherently born good or bad.

I was the first to raise my hand, saying humans were born inherently good natured, and had to be taught to be bad. When she asked me to prove my point, I retracted, because I could not think of an elaboration to my answer.

I will never forget that discussion, because it led me to ask myself that very question more thoroughly. Are people born good or bad?

Vaughan said she believed people were not born specifically good or bad — they  had to be taught to be one way or another. In ways, that makes sense. So, I set out to look for a few answers.

Research being done by the Association for Psychological Science shows that DNA may play more of a role than we know.

A study has determined receptor genes for the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin may hold the key to human behavior. The study concluded that people with very active receptors for the hormones would be more prone to respond positively to stressful situations, while others might lash out in self defense.

“Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus, where it is either released into the blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, where it binds to oxytocin receptors to influence behavior and physiology.

“Recent studies in both animals and humans support the notion that oxytocin is also part of a response to social separation and related stress. A study …  found that women who reported more gaps in their social relationships and less positive relationships with their primary partners had higher levels of oxytocin and the stress hormone cortisol than those reporting better relationships.”

We have to understand that other people have beliefs that may be different than our own, and, if this study is solid, trying to change those beliefs may set off emotions they have little control over.

Learn to be more accepting of others and offended less when your views are challenged. Keeping an open mind is the gateway to learning more about oneself, whether it changes your mind or allows you to further confirm what you believe in.

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