Safetyism. Is society being coddled?
This term, first used in 2018 by Lukianoff and Haidt, defines a culture in which safety (including emotional safety) has become a value for which people are unwilling to make trade-offs for other practical reasons.
Concerns about society becoming risk-averse due to irrational fear, such as those voiced by Luke Johnson in The Times on Sunday, are fuelling the gap between different perspectives about what feels ok. His statement, “A fetish about being ‘safe’ is undermining the essential functioning of everyday life,” completely excludes the science. When people don’t feel safe, they’re unable to function properly.
Psychology shows that we tend to interact most with people who think like we do, and such terms can exaggerate polarised views and block our ability to empathise. It makes it difficult for us to alter our course in light of new information.
We need to be respectful of each person’s unique perspective and find ways to create psychological safety. We need to listen with open-mindedness and curiosity and respond with sensitivity. That’s not wrapping people up in cotton wool. It’s about reducing the brain’s fear response and enabling people to be their best. It’s not rocket science, but it is science.
Get in touch with me to continue the discussion on this.