Monday, April 17, 2023

Social Contagion

There are two types of contagion. Most people define contagion as an infection by a pathogen - a bacteria, virus, fungus, or even a parasite. We label this type of contagion pathogenic contagion. Historically, the 19th century discovery by Louis Pasteur in relation to germ theory was a momentous event in human history. Pasteur discovered invisible bacteria caused infections and disease in living organisms. 

A different type of contagion, becoming well-known in our day, is social contagion. There are no physical bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites involved in this type of contagion. However, this form of contagion from one person or group to another person or group could be morally devastating. It consists of harmful ideas or behaviors.

First, we briefly discuss pathogenic contagion—physical infections caused by pathogens. In 1861 Louis Pasteur developed his revolutionary germ theory. He discovered that food became spoiled from the action of pathogens such as bacteria. He became known as the father of bacteriology and microbiology. Humans and other living things became ill by the action of bacteria in our environment which, in turn, affected our bodies adversely. Tiny viruses were not visualized until 1935 through electron microscopes, but in the 19th century Pasteur determined that unseen pathogens sometimes caused disease. He utilized his discoveries to treat and prevent disease. He originated pasteurization for milk and beverages by heating them to higher temperatures. This process resulted in destruction of bacteria and prevented milk spoilage and undesirable fermentation events caused by bacteria. Many more discoveries were made in following decades.

In contrast, social contagion is described as the spread of unusual or bizarre behaviors or symptoms which disperse spontaneously through a human population or group. In our day we recognize that social contagion is exacerbated by non-traditional social media unknown just a few short years ago. These media platforms utilize appealing audiovisuals. Examples are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instant Messaging and Snapchat to name a few. This is a far cry from the days of our grandparents and great-grandparents who were content to access information on their rotary dial telephones, radio receivers, and daily newspapers.

A popular term today is “influencer.” There are ubiquitous influencers in today’s society. These people modify the traditional sexual and social mores we have established in our culture. Increasingly, corporate entities have come out favoring non-traditional agendas. We see their influence in media advertising to a significant degree. Some public libraries have sponsored aggressive drag queen story hours. A few public school library personnel have touted book collections openly promoting transgender themes. The audio, visual, and textual impact of these influencers is stunning. Young people, in particular, are vulnerable to the constant onslaught of influencers from personnel in media, politics, entertainment, public education, and advertising. In recent weeks a famous corporate beverage firm has touted support of transgenderism in their advertising. The social phenomenon of transgenderism has accelerated greatly in the past 10-15 years.  

In the Middle Ages a phenomenon called the “dancing mania” afflicted a significant portion of the population. Great numbers of people would dance uncontrollably, sometimes for days at a time. We propose that the power of social contagion was operative in historic time in the dancing mania phenomenon. It was a case of mass hysteria. Social contagion manifests itself in a variety of ways. Could social contagion be a psychic phenomenon and possibly result in physical injury where unusual, non-traditional ideas are spread and multiplied within the populace?  

In an address to Congress in 2021 the President stated his administration “has the back” of the transgender community. His direct quote was, “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people. You’re so brave. I want you to know your president has your back.

All of the influencers noted above are parties to the social contagion of transgenderism. They pronounce the benefits of transgenderism as “settled science.” Quite the opposite is true. Science has shown a human’s gender is fixed at birth. Holy Scripture (Gen. 1:27b) states “Male and female created He them.” (Read also Matthew 19:4) God did not create “gender fluidity.” Gender is not fluid, contrary to some commentators and ordinary citizens who promote “gender fluidity.”  Separate genders were created in God’s divine mind when He created humans. 

With multiple influencers vying for the attention of young people in media and social venues, we approach the topic with interest and wisdom. Statistics on the frequency of children, adolescents, young adults, and adults who identify as transgender are mostly less than 2%. In our younger population the transgender population is at the upper range of this figure. But an incredible 5.1% of young adults are gender non-conforming. Following is a quote from a 3/7/23 article in AFPI (America First Policy Institute) by Jonathan Pidluzny and Alex Campana:

     Why are huge numbers of young people, for the first time in recorded history, 

     suddenly demanding radical pharmaceutical and medical interventions so that they

     can present themselves as members of the opposite sex? A leading theory that a

     social contagion has taken hold posits similarities between skyrocketing rates of

     trans-identification today and previous instances of peer contagion like anorexia.

The transgender phenomenon is a difficult modern cultural issue - more so in view of the weakening of our national system of values. Media and government authorities no longer no longer support a Christian worldview and value system. Secular values rule as never before. Court decisions cannot be counted on to support long-established Judeo-Christian behavioral norms. We plead for mercy from God to adhere to HIS divine value system