When I was in year nine (aged 13), I had a lesson at school once where we were set the task of choosing one thing that should be locked in a place called Room 101. We were told that Room 101 is where our deepest fears or something we absolutely hate is locked in forever. We then all had to do a presentation in front of the class, attempting to convince others why our chosen thing should be kept away from society for the rest of time.
For those who don’t know, the concept of Room 101 comes from George Orwell’s controversial novel 1984 (definitely worth a read if you haven’t already). The characters who are punished for subverting authority are subject to torture in this room, from their greatest fear; for the main protagonist, Winston Smith, it is rats.
At first, I immediately thought of wasps. I was stung by one when I was younger and have been wary of them ever since. However, I’m glad that I changed my mind and decided to go with cancer; it wasn’t worth locking a creature so trivial in there. From what I remember, I made an emotional speech, talking about how my family have been affected by the disease, so I think it was pretty convincing and persuasive.
It’s funny how you can remember things like this that happened to you a long time ago. It obviously means that they had an effect on you. A few times after this lesson throughout my education through to the present day, I thought about what could be locked in this imaginary room which has had a profound effect upon society (e.g. the TV programme Big Brother, another concept from 1984).
Again I thought of wasps, but as I grew up I realised that they are a part of the eco system. If wasps were completely eradicated, then there would be a knock-on effect within the eco system, which is not ideal. I’m still wary of them now, but I try to ignore them and if you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you (most of the time).
Another thing I thought of, which would be very controversial, is religion. Before any of you start judging, I’m not intolerant of religion. I was once a Christian myself and consider myself an agnostic now, and I have many friends who believe in different religions. The thing is, religion has caused so much pain and turmoil throughout human history.
There have been wars and genocides because of religion and belief, a horrific example being Hitler and the Nazis exterminating millions of Jews. Religion has had a strong influence over how people behave towards others and those from other religions. An example here is the Viking’s belief in Norse Gods conflicting with the Christian belief in just one God when the Vikings invaded Christian countries. This confliction between religions has caused fights between people.
I could go on with many more examples, but I decided against locking religion away in the dreaded Room 101. Despite all of the conflicts that have happened and still do happen, religion is fascinating. I find it incredible that people to this day still believe in something which came about thousands of years ago. Some religious beliefs have died out, such as the Roman and Greek Gods, but those that have prevailed are influential in people’s daily lives, hence why they are still recognised and worship happens today.
Religion serves many benefits for people, such as finding comfort and feeling a sense of belonging in a community. The literature from religions is fascinating, including interesting stories as well as forming the basis for how people should behave. British law, morals, and ethics stemmed from the Ten Commandments of Christianity. I believe that people are becoming more accepting of people’s religious beliefs and in the UK, there are places of worship for those of different religions (especially in Leicester).
What I believe should be locked in Room 101 is the action of being judgemental.
If there’s one thing university has taught me, people are very prone to being judgemental towards others. I learnt this in particular when looking at the representation of gender within literature. A person who is judgemental will stereotype people into categories, and then this leads to negative attitudes, such as racism, sexism, ageism and the list goes on.
I understand ‘being judgemental’ as making an assumption about someone or something without due consideration or thought about their circumstances. For the case of gender, an example might be seeing a person you conceive as a male, and they look feminine to you. This might cause you to assume that they are gay because they seem to fit that category of sexual identification. If they speak to you and their voice sounds higher in tone, then that might affirm your judgement that they are gay- they fit the bill.
If you got to know this person and maybe become their friend, then you might start to understand who they really are and their circumstances. This male might not be gay; he might indentify himself of a different sexual orientation. He how appears and dresses is comfortable for him, and even if it is deemed as feminine in society, it should not bother or concern anyone.
Making judgements about a person makes us feel more comfortable in being able to indentify someone, what category they fit into. Some people might also aim to be a stereotype by adhering to the characteristics, in order to feel socially accepted in a group of people. However, being judgemental has negative consequences, and quite frankly, I’ve had enough people stereotyping others and seeing the need to categorise.
Another thing I have learnt from note taking in psychology is that we are complex as human beings. Our behaviours are often difficult to predict. For example, a person might judge you for being too outspoken on one occasion, but you might not be an outspoken individual on a regular basis (not that anything is wrong with being outspoken, to an extent). Close friends and family are able to predict how you would behave in certain situations, but then again, we surprise ourselves and act differently to how we might have expected.
One type of stereotyping which I loathe is identifying people as sluts/whores. Quite often, particularly for women, if you are wearing a short skirt or short dress, people will judge you as someone who sleeps around and are easy to get hold of i.e. ‘she was asking for it’ (I absolutely detest that phrase).
People should not be so judgemental. If this was lessened or eradicated, then all of us would confidently embrace our individuality, without fear or anxiety of being judged. We are told on a regular basis not to care what anyone else thinks about us, but it is often on our minds.
You may have been in a situation with a group of people where they all agree on something, but you have thought differently and might not necessarily agree with the majority. However, to feel accepted and a part of the group, you agree with everyone; it’s easier to accept than to defy something.
This is not the right action though. Don’t be afraid to speak out on what you feel. Individuality is important to embrace, and it’s what makes us all different and interesting people. If everyone was exactly the same and agreed on everything, how boring would that be?
I mentioned before that I chose cancer to be locked in Room 101 for my school presentation. Of course, cancer is a valid thing that should be eradicated. It destroys lives and tares families and friends part. If I could choose two things to be locked up, I would include cancer as well.
To make the world a better place, everyone should have a go at not being so judgemental towards others. We would all have a better outlook on life, and maybe even start accepting people for who they are. If there’s one thing humanity is not great at, it’s learning from mistakes. Past actions which have been frowned upon occur today unfortunately (genocide being one), but humans are adaptable as well; that’s why we’ve got to where we are today- isn’t that incredible?
Happy reading and blogging,