Being Yourself Is Not A License For Degeneracy.

Ada Akpala

Why does the phrase “Be yourself” mean an overexaggerated performative act in today’s culture? Why does it rarely apply to someone who exudes quiet confidence? And why can’t “owning your sexuality” be a private matter rather than a public declaration of pride?

For a long time, society was governed by rules that especially regulated our interactions with each other and the wider society. These rules, as well as setting boundaries so we do not infringe on the rights and liberties of others, were also to serve as guides for our consciences. And while some people say “the rules were so puritanical in nature and restricted the ability for people to fully express themselves,” we cannot look at the downward spiral of society today and not connect the dots; the removal of those rules, the degradation of them, has brought us to a time of emotional incontinence and moral degeneracy that we are witnessing for the first time in our lives.

Being told to be yourself nowadays is almost akin to being told to act without boundaries, to show the world all parts of yourself that people have no business seeing, and to disregard people who disagree with you, regardless of the harm done to yourself or/and society. Being yourself easily in today’s society means letting go of the inhibitions that have done such an excellent job of protecting you from certain consequences, whether to your mental and physical health or to your reputation. There’s a wildness to this, as if it’s only natural that we tap into our primal instincts, ignoring the virtues and restraints that have separated society from the animals in the wild. This rides on the premise that every display of character or emotion is valid, and must be accepted.

Astounding numbers of people, out of a misguided desire to avoid being uninteresting, have assumed identities they know little to nothing about, transforming into people they no longer recognise.

From “family-friendly” drag shows” to people who have no problem overly sexualizing themselves and others on social media, the “be yourself” mantra has not only emboldened increased degeneracy, but it has also provided much needed immunity from criticism. After all, who are you to stop people from expressing themselves, “living their truth”, and enjoying their sexuality? The excuse is often “they aren’t harming anyone”. On the contrary, they are. People who have no guardrails for their actions, who refuse to factor in the consequences that are bound to follow their actions, end up being a danger to themselves. For fear of seeming like a “hater” or a “puritan”, those closest to them refuse to be honest with them. Emotionally, these people become so accustomed to being cheered on that they develop a toxic dependency on having people clap their hands in support of whatever they do, easily singling out those who would not partake or cheer their immoral displays as haters. The more we validate the things we know in our hearts to be wrong, the more we lose parts of our souls and consciences, leaving us open to do despicable things that will ultimately ruin us.

Isn’t it interesting that in this era of unprecedented liberation, there are people who have never felt more lost, isolated, or imprisoned? Because their entire lives have been centred on trends and the need for acceptance. There are wiser ways to show the world who your are. Be yourself, but act conscientiously.

The very thing we think sets us free, the uninhibited expression of our “identity,” can trap and confound us, because we are always expected to keep up appearances in relation to that identity, wherever we go.

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Ada Akpala

Challenge Yourself, Others And The World

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1 thought on “Being Yourself Is Not A License For Degeneracy.”

  1. Hello there, I’ve just discovered you and agree with a lot of what you say about not allowing ourselves to be defined by simple identity tags.
    But I find myself here disagreeing with you. Where is the evidence that we are in ‘a time of emotional incontinence and moral degeneracy’? Who sets the limits on what is and isn’t ethical? What are the negative consequences you speak of?
    Family friendly drag shows will by definition be un-sexual, and might help children understand a sector society better. People being sexual on social media isn’t necessary harmful. Are you not falling into the same trap as critical social justice adherents by making assumptions about people based on one small facet of their identity?

    With best wishes, and thanks for invitinb open and constructive discussion,


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